M. Leyden Whitehead, 65, a retired program analyst with the Federal Aviation Administration and a former civilian employe of the Department of the Army, died of cancer Monday at the Washington Hospital Center.

Mr Whitehead began his federal career in 1938 with the old Reconstruction Finance Corporation.

During World War II, he was a chief radio operator in the Merchant Marine in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Pacific theaters.

After the war, he went to work for the Army Department as a supervisory production control specialist in the electronics division of the office of the chief signal officer.

In about 1956, Mr. Whitehead transferred to the Federal Aviation Agency, now the Federal Aviation Administration. He retired in 1967 for reasons of health.

A Washington resident for 52 years, he was born in Bradford, Pa., and moved here with his family in 1927. He attended St. Albans School for Boys, Western High School in Bethesda, and National University.

Mr. Whitehead was a longtime member of St. Patrick's Episcopal Church in Washington.

Survivors include his wife the former Virginia Wesner of Washington; a son, Michael J., of Silver Spring; three daughters, Diane V., of Cabin John, Virginia W. Beach and Frances W. Feeney, both of Germantown Md.; a brother, Wilson, of Phoenix, and two grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society.