William V. Wilkerson, 54, a former director of the D.C. Unemployment Compensation Board, died Monday at Alexandria Hospital. He had cancer.

Mr. Wilkerson was born in Spotsylvania County, Va., and grew up there and in Fredericksburg, Va. During World War II, he served in the Navy in the Pacific.

In 1946, he moved to the Washington area. He began his career with the D.C. government as an assistant claims clerk at the Unemployment Compensation Board, now the Office of Unemployment Compensation in the D.C. Department of Labor. He worked his way up through the ranks and also attended school. He earned a bachelor's degree at American University in 1962 and a master's degree at AU in 1968.

He was named acting director of the board in 1975 and later was named director. He held the latter position until 1978, when he retired.

He recently had been working in the division of federal programs of the U.S. Labor Department.

Mr. Wilkerson, who lived in Alexandria, was a member of the International Association of Personal and Employment Security. He also was a member of the Fairlington United Methodist Church.

Survivors include his wife, Jean H., of Alexandria, and one sister and three brothers.