Retired Army Lt. Coleman G. Gunderson, 81, a former assistant director of the war crimes prison at Landesberg, Germany, and a resident of the Washington area for almost 40 years, died Moinday at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He had a heart ailment.

Col. Gunderson was born in Wautoma, Wis., and grew up there. He earned a bachelor's degree and a Reserve Army Training Corps Commission at Ripon College and a master's degree in education at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

He was a teacher of science and mathematics at a high school in Aurora, Ill., when he was called to active duty in World War II. He was assigned to the military police and was stationed at the Pentagon in 1942. He established his residence here at that time.

Subsequent assignments took him to Europe. At the time of his retirement on a physical disability in 1954, he was assistant director of the war crimes prison at Landesberg.

Co. Gunderson was a member of the Retired Officers Association, the Minutemen and the Fossils Club. He also was a member of Grace United Methodist Church in Bethesda. He lived in Bethesda until three years ago, when he moved to the Asbury section of Gaithersburg, where he was a member of Grace United Methodist Church.

Survivors include his wife, Minnette, of Gaithersburg, and three sisters, Ivy Chilewski and Pearl Bruchs, both of Wautoma, and Cora Podell of Madison, Wis.