William O. Edwards, 60, who retired in 1972 as a senior officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, died Saturday at the Potomac Nursing Home after a stroke.

He was awarded the agency's Intelligence Medal of Merit in May 1972 for his contributions to intelligence communications systems.

Mr. Edwards was a native of Springfield, Mass., and attended Northeastern University in Boston before enlisting in the Army during World War II.

He was an officer in the Army Signal Corps and then served with the Office of Strategic Services during the war.

He joined the CIA when the agency was formed in 1947, serving as a communications officer in Europe and the Far East. He was a 1960 graduate of the National War College.

Mr. Edwards was a resident of Bethesda.

Survivors include his wife, Anne, and a son, Michael, both of Bethesda; another son, William O. Jr., of West Palm Beach, Fla.; his mother, Ehtel Edwards, two sisters, Gertrude Walsh and Barbara DeForge, and a brother, Kenneth, all of Agawam, Mass.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Heart Association, to the American Cancer Society, or to a charity of one's choice.