James Augustine Gorman, 66, former head of the right-of-way department of the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission, died of cancer Sunday at Holy Cross Hospital. He lived in Silver Spring.

Mr. Gorman came to Washington to join the WSSC as a right-of-way agent in 1949, and became head of the department. He retired in 1974.

He was born in Paris, Tenn., and worked there as a machinist for the L&N Railroad. During World War II, he attended the Army engineer officer candidate school at Fort Belvoir, and then served in the European theater with the 256th Engineer Combat Battalion, attaining the rank of captain.

After the war, Mr. Gorman was affiliated with the power tool division of the Noland Co. in Chattanooga, Tenn., until coming here.

He was a member of the American Legion.

He is survived by his wife of 37 years, the former Suzannah V. Buscher of Silver Spring; a daughter, Patty Sue Bailey of New Orleans; La.; three sons, James A. Jr., of Gaithersburg, Dennis P., of Damascus, and T. Joseph, of Silver Spring; five sisters, Grace Wheatley, Esther Gorman, Mary Theresa Foster, Elizabeth Gorman and Daisy Huie, and a brother, Edward, all of Paris, Tenn., and five grandchildren.