Cornelius H. Pearson, 59, a retired physical science technician at the National Bureau of Standards, died Friday at Washington Hospital Center following a heart attack.

Mr. Pearson was born in Washington and graduated from Armstrong Technical High School. He began his career at the Bureau of Standards in 1941, but interrupted it to serve in the Army during World War II.

He was a member of the 366th Infantry Regiment of the 92nd Infantry Division. He was captured during the Italian campaign and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner.

He then returned to Washington and the Bureau of Standards. At the time of his retirement in 1976, he was engaged in measuring films.

Mr. Pearson was a member of the parish of the Holy Comforter St. Cyprian Catholic Church. He was a member of the parish council, secretary of the Holy Name Society, and a member of the Ushers Board, the Hall Committee and the Knights of St. John. He also was a member of the Pigskin Club and the 366th Infanty Veterans Association. He was active in civic work in his neighborhood in Southeast Washington.

Survivors include his wife, Regina, of Washington; five daughters, Adele Lewis, of Beltsville, Adrienne Morrison, of Mobile, Ala., and Denise Henderson and Diane and Jacqueline Pearson, all of Washington; three sons, Cornelius H. Jr., Stephen and David, all of Washington; three sisters, Grace Stewart, Lavinia Banner and Esther Dorsey, all of Washington, and three brothers, Chester, John and Martin Pearson, also of Washington.