Robert R. Weatherford, 47, a specialist on international education for the Department of Education and a former educator, died of cancer Wednesday at Fairfax Hospital.

Dr. Weatherford began his government career in 1971 as special assistant to the deputy commissioner of school systems in the old U.S. Office of Education. He later served as special assistant to the U.S. Commissioner of Education.

At the time of his death, he was acting chief of the internation exchange branch in the Department of Education's international education division.

Dr. Weatherford was an assistant professor at Syracuse University and an associate professor of educational psychology at the University of South Florida in Tampa before joining the Office of Education.

From 1976 to 1979, while on leave from his government job, he directed a project on international education for the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Dr. Weatherford was born in American Falls, Idaho, and reared in Rockland, Idaho. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Utah and received a doctorate in educational psychology from Ohio State University.

He was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and participated in church missions in Switzerland and Austria.

Survivors include his wife, Marlene, and two sons, Mark and Frank, all of Springfield; another son, Larry, of Cali, Calif.; his mother, Ann Weatherford, and two sisters, Jessie Thornton and Mae Canfield, all of American Falls; two other sisters, Norma Grose of Salt Lake City, and Ruby Dalley of Santa Clara, Calif., and two brothers, Virgil, of Woodland Hills, Calif., and Jerry, of Statesboro, Ga.

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