Guy H. Birdsall, 86, a retired general counsel of the Veterans Administration, died of cardiac arrest Tuesday at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.

He joined the old Veterans Bureau in 1920 and was an associate solicitor of the VA before being named assistant administrator for legislative matters in 1946. He was appointed general counsel in 1956 and held that post until retiring four years later.

Mr. Birdsall also had been a member of the President's Commission on Employment of the Handicapped and had been appointed to that body by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

He was a native of Algoma, Wis., and a graduate of Stevens Point College in Wisconsin. He came to Washington after World War I service with the Army in Europe and graduated from Georgetown University's law school in 1922.

Mr. Birdsall lived in Arlington before moving to Washington in 1940. He had lived in Bethesda since the early 1950s. He had been active in the Friendship Heights Citizens Association while living in Washington.

He was a 33rd degree mason and belonged to the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Mr. Birdsall was a member of St. Albans Parish of the Washington Cathedral.

Survivors include his wife, Lillian K., of Bethesda; a daughter, Marjorie Irish of Rockville; three grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.