Betty Talbert, 56, retired chief of environmental services for the U.S. Forest Service's Southern region in Atlanta and a former Washington resident, died of cancer Aug. 12 at her Atlanta home.

Miss Talbert worked in the office of environmental education for the Forest Service's Southern region for about three years before retiring last year for reasons of health.

Before that, she was chief of public affairs for the Army's Southeastern Regional Recruiting Command in Atlanta for more than 10 years.

She was born and reared in Washington and graduated from McKinley Technical High School here. She earned a bachelor's degree from St. Mary College in Leavenworth, Kan, and did postgraduate work at the University of Maryland before earning a master's degree from Georgia State University in 1972.

Before moving to Atlanta, Miss Talbert lived in Japan, Germany and Taiwan, where she accompained her husband, Army Col. Tom Reid, on military assignments. The couple later were divorced.

Miss Talbert was a member of Women in Communications Inc., the Association of the U.S. Army, the American Defense Preparedness Association and the Armed Forces Management Association.

Survivors include a son, Matthew Reid, and a daughter, Mrs. Perry Sandford, both of Atlanta, and a brother, Cheyney E. Talbert of Springfield, Va.