Dr. Lester M. Fraley, 78, a retired dean at the University of Maryland and former State Department consultant, died of cancer, Saturday at his home in Silver Spring.

Dr. Fraley was dean of physical education, recreation and health at the University of Maryland for 22 years before retiring in 1971.

As a State Department consultant, he worked on physical education, programs for students in Chile, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic. He was vice president of the 5th Congress of International Education and had served on a plans committee of the Pan-American Congress.

He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Association on Heath, Physical Education and Recreation.

Dr. Fraley was born near Thurmont, Md. He was a graduate of Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va., and earned both master's and doctoral degrees at the George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville, Tenn.

Before coming to Washington in 1949, he had been assistant dean and then dean of liberal arts of the Associated Colleges of Upper New York. The Associated Colleges were a group of schools, founded shortly after the end of World War II.

Dr. Fraley had lived in Silver Spring since 199 and was a member of the Woodside United Methodist Church there.

Survivors include his wife, the former Clara Hamilton, of Silver Spring; two daughters, Nancy F. Sanstol, also of Silver Spring, and Rebecca F. Gaffney of Richardson, Tex.; two sisters, Mae Kelly of Blue Ridge Summit, Pa., and Helen Miller of Thurmont; a brother, H. Donald, also of Thurmont, and four grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society or the Dr. Lester m. Fraley Award Fund at the University of Maryland.