William H. Clifford, 57, a retired network design engineer in the Wheaton Plaza office of the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Co., died of respiratory failure Tuesday at his home in Silver Spring.

He retired from C&P 3 1/3 years ago after suffering a stroke. He had been with the company for 32 years.

Mr. Clifford had been active in the Boy Scouts for 28 years. Under his direction, Troop 1089 in Wheaton received national recognition. He had led numerous expeditions to the Philmont Scout Reservation in New Mexico. He received many honors, including the Silver Spring Beaver award.

He was born in Tower City, Pa., and came to Washington as a boy. He graduated from Roosevelt High School and attended Benjamin Franklin University. During those years, he used the name of William Clifford Eisenacher after his stepfather, the late Lester Eisenacher, although he was not adopted. Later, he dropped that name.

Mr. Clifford served on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Yorktown before and during World War II. He participated in a number of battles in the Pacific, including the Philippines and Midway and Wake Island.

He is survived by his wife, the former Catharine Brosius, of Silver Spring; two sons, Edward F., of Anchorage, Alaska, and William H. II, of Silver Spring; two daughters, Catharine C. Ware of Silver Spring, and Lara Stalzer of Oregon; his mother L. Katharine Eisenacher, of Silver Spring; a half-brother; Richard L. (Rick) Eisenacher of Wheaton, and nine grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions in his memory to the Tribute Fund of the Boy Scout of America in Bethesda or Resurrection Lutheran Church in West Kensington.