Clyde T. Ellis, 71, former U.S. representative from Arkansas and general manager of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association here, died Saturday at the Wisconsin Avenue Nursing Home after a stroke. He had been a resident there since October.

Mr. Ellis sat in Congress as a Democrat from 1939 to 1943, when he joined the NRECA. He immediately took two years off to serve as a combat officer in the Navy.

Considered an authority on natural resources development and on the problems of rural America, he was borrowed from the NRECA in 1961 to tour six South American nations to study their needs for rural electrification projects. He reported the results of his study to the Agency for International Development.

Later in the 1960s, Mr. Ellis made similar fact-finding trips to the Far East.

After he retired from NRECA in 1968, he became a special consultant to the secretary of agriculture and was a member of the National Water Commission until 1970.

From 1971 to 1977, Mr. Ellis was special area development assistant to the late Sen. John L. McCellan (D-Ark.). He then returned to the staff of the secretary of agriculture, working there until last August.

Mr. Ellis was born in Garfield, Ark. He was a graduate of the University of Arkansas, and attended its law school. Later, he attended George Washington University Law School and American University.

He taught in rural Arkansas schools and was superintendent of schools in Garfield. From 1933 to 1935, he was a member of the Arkansas House of Representatives and from 1935 to 1939 of the State Senate.

Mr. Ellis had been a member of the board of the Cooperative League of the U.S.A. and the American Institute of Cooperation. He had served on a number of advisory boards on rural development in the Commerce and Agriculture departments.

He belonged to the Arkansas and D.C. bar associations and the Congressional Country Club.

He is survived by his wife, Camille, of Chevy Chase; two daughters by a previous marriage, Patricia Marti of Columbia, Md., and Mary Duty of Fayetteville, Ark.; seven brothers and sisters, including Mrs. Robert Ransom of Arlington, and four grandchildren.