Irvin M. Thomas, 61, a retired building and grounds foreman at the Naval Air Testing Center in Patuxent River, Md., and a Navy veteran of World War II who was active in veterans groups, died of cancer Sunday at St. Mary's Hospital in Leonardtown, Md.

Mr. Thomas was born in Gibsonville, N.C. He joined the Navy in 1940 and served with the Navy Seabees in the Navy's 20th construction battalion in the Pacific theater during World War II. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal.

In 1944, he moved to Clinton and worked as a construction foreman for about four years before going to work for the Navy's weapons testing center in Piney Point, Md., in 1948. He subsequently joined the Naval Air Testing Center's building and grounds division and was its foreman when he retired in 1974. He received a number of outstanding service and achievement awards for his work.

A resident of California in St. Mary's County, Md., Mr. Thomas was a past commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Patuxent Naval Air Station Post No. 2632. He served as department commander of the Maryland Veterans of Foreign Wars in 1961 and 1962 and was a member of the Arrick L. Lore Post No. 274 of the American Legion in Lusby, Md.

Mr. Thomas was a charter member of the D.C. Amvets, a former member of the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department and was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police in St. Mary's County at the time of his death.

Survivors include his wife, Virginia B., of California; two sisters, Mae Troxler of Silver Spring and Sara Brogan of Washington, and a brother, James R., of Gibsonville.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Solomons, Md.