Mitchell N. McCarus, 61, who owned and operated a specialty advertising firm in the Washington area for 25 years, died of cancer Thursday at Fairfax Hospital.

Mr. McCarus was born in Charleston, W.Va. He served in the Navy for four years during World War II and saw duty in the Atlantic and the Pacific.

After the war, he returned to Charleston and worked in a family restaurant.

In 1951, he moved to this area and went to work for the Post Office.

About 1954, he established the McCarus Specialty Advertising Co., with offices in Franconia. The firm designs items such as badges, pencils, and matchbook covers that businesses give away to customers and other visitors. The items bear advertising from the firms that give them away.

Mr. McCarus ran the business until last November, when he was forced to retire for reasons of health. It is being carried on by members of his family.

Mr. McCarus, who lived in Franconia, was a member of Evangelical Free Church in Annandale.

Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth H. of Franconia; three children, Mitchell E., of Lanham, Paul H., of North Baddesley, England, and Carla M. Parsons of Alexandria; his mother, Della McCarus of Charleston, W.Va.; three brothers, Ernest, of Ann Arbor, Mich., Edward, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., and Ramez, of Charleston; two sisters, Frances Zegeer of Charleston, and Norma Harris of Springfield, Ohio, and six grandchildren.