Steven C. Paton, 52, president of Steven Paton Associates Inc., a public relations firm in Lorton, died of cancer Thursday at Arlington Hospital.

Founded by Mr. Paton in 1975, the company did graphics and communications work for local, national and international clients, especially in the aerospace and communications industries, with associated offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Dayton, Ohio, and Norfolk, Va.

Before moving to this area in the early 1960s, Mr. Paton was chief of communication for the Ryan Aeronautical Co., now Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical, in the San Diego ara. He also was a former editor and designer with General Dynamics Corp., in California.

Mr. Paton had been corporate director of public relations for Fairchild Industries, a diversified aerospace and communications company in Germantown, Md., before establishing his own business.

He received two gold medal awards from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.The first, awarded in 1971, was for an international public relations program on the plight of American prisoners of war. The second, awarded two years later, was for a multimedia communications program to give high school students a better idea of this nation's scientific and technological achievements.

Mr. Paton was born in Kenosha, Wisc. He earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts from the American Academy of Art in Chicago and had completed postgraduate work at the University of California.

Coauthor of two books on areospace, "Thud" and "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," he was a member of the Aviation and Space Writers Association and the National Aviation Club.

Mr. Patton lived in Annandale. He was a member of the National Press Club and the National Society of Art Directors and was a past president of both the Artists and Writers Association and the Art Directors Club of San Diego.

Survivors include his wife, the former Melinda Miller, three sons, David, Randy and Scott, and his mother, Margaret, all of Annandale, and two daughters, Carole and Coleen, both of California.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Immunology Researching Center, Freeport, Grand Bahamas, or to the Hospice of Northern Virginia.