John Gorham Palfrey, 60, who was a member of the old Atomic Energy Commission from 1962 to 1966, died of cancer Sunday at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

He was a member of the general counsel's office of the AEC from 1947 to 1950. He then spent two years at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, where he did research on the political and legal aspects of atomic energy.

In 1952 he joined the faculty of Columbia University law school and was named a full professor four years later. From 1958 until the time he was named to the AEC, Mr. Palfrey was dean of Columbia College, the men's undergraduate liberal arts division of Columbia University.

Mr. Palfrey returned to the law school after leaving the AEC in 1966. He also had spent a year at both the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and at the Brookings Institution during the 1970s.

Mr. Palfrey was a native of Boston. He was a 1940 graduate of Harvard university, where he was elected Phi Beta Kappa. He earned a law degree at Harvard in 1946 following wartime service with Army intelligence.

He was the author of a number of articles on atomic energy, arms control and international law. He was a member of the New York Bar Association, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the International Institute of Strategic Studies.

Survivors include his wife, the former Clochette Roosevelt, of the homes in New York City and Sharon, Conn.; a son, Dr. John G. (Sean) Jr.; of Southboro, Mass.; a daughter, Antonia Ford Palfrey, of Amherst, Mass.; five sisters, and two grandchildren.