Gertrude H. Landmesser, 83, a Red Cross nurse who specialized in disaster relief for 20 years before her retirement in 1962, died of cancer Wednesday at her home in Washington.

Miss Landmesser was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She received her nurse's training at Jewish Hospital in Philadelphia and at the University of Pennsylvania.

Before beginning her career with the Red Cross, she worked for the National Youth Administration in Harrisburg, Pa., and was a supervisor of the Visiting Nurses Association of Philadelphia. She also was head nurse and supervisor at the Jewish Hospital.

Miss Landmesser joined the Red Cross in New York City in 1942. Her job was to be ready to assist at disasters wherever they occurred. Among the first to which she was assigned was the fire in the Coconut Grove nightclub in Boston in November 1942, which took 491 lives. She also was assigned to the circus fire in Hartford, Conn., which killed 168 people and injured 487.

In 1948, she was transferred to Red Cross headquarters in Washington. Over the years, she was sent to the sites of tornadoes, floods, fires, explosions, hurricanes and similar occurrences in more than 30 states.

She received a gold Red Cross nurse's badge and a certificate of commendation upon her retirement.

Miss Landmesser's survivors include a brother, Frank R. Landmesser, of Washington.