James Brown, 75, who retired in 1964 from the civilian position of chief quarterman of the food service division of the Naval Medical Center at Bethesda, died May 6 at George Washington University Hospital. He had cancer.

Mr Brown joined the food service division of the Navy Department here as a cook/helper in 1927. Much of his service, which was interrupted in World War II, when he served with the U.S. Army infantry, was at the Bethesda medical center.

He received a number of honors, including several consecutive Superior Performance Awards.

In 1959, sponsored by the Navy Department, Mr. Brown completed the teacher training for chefs program at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. He held a merit award for excellence in cuisine from the Epicurean Club.

He was a past noble father of Osceola Lodge No. 2033 of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows and a former member of Osceola Household of Ruth.

Mr. Brown, who lived in Washington, was born in Greenville, N.C., and came here as a young man.

He is survived by his wife, Evelyn, and a son, Vincent, of Washington; two daughters, Lynda P. Young, of Park Forest, Ill., and Gwen Saunders Reeves, of Oakland, Calif.: a sister, Blanche Respass, of Baltimore, and two grandchildren.