Wilma Sands Wetenhall, 54, administrative assistant to the White House curator for the past 12 years, died of cancer Monday at her Arlington home.

Mrs. Wetenhall, who was born in Bonifay, Fla., joined the White House staff in 1965. Before being appointed administrative assistant to the curator, she worked in the White House gift unit, where she helped Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson acknowledge gifts to the president and his family.

She previously had lived in the Washington area in the late 1940s and early 1950s, when she worked for the Statlor Hilton Hotel, now the Capital Hilton, and the Department of the Navy.

From about 1953 until returning to this area in 1965, Mrs. Wetenhall lived in Michigan with her first husband Lawrence Sands, and their family. He died in 1961.

Survivors include her husband, John H. Wetenhall of Arlington; three children by her first marriage, Michael Sands of Alexandria, David Sands of Manchester, N.H., and Barbara S. Trenholm of Martha's Vineyard, Mass.; two sisters, Eunice S. Knowles and Lillian S. George, both of Key West, Fla., and a brother, Collis Sellers of Slidell, La.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Hospic of Northern Virginia in Arlington.