Retired U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Ellis S. Gordon, 71, a civil engineer who began his career with the old U.S. Lighthouse Service and who later served as an official of the American Wood Preserves Institute in McLean, died Sept. 26 at his apartment in Sunnyvale, Calif.

A resident of Davie, Fla., and a former resident of Silver Spring, Capt. Gordon was staying in Sunnyvale while being treated for cancer.

Born and reared in Baltimore, he earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from John Hopkins University there.

In 1930, he joined the Commerce Department's Lighthouse Service, which was consolidated with the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939. He was stationed in Ohio, Massachusetts, Michigan, Alaska and Florida before transferring to Coast Guard headquarters here in 1954. He then was assigned to the Coast Guard's engineering division until his retirement in 1960.

In the early 1960s, Capt. Gordon became the Washington area representative of the American Wood Preservers Institute. He subsequently served as corporate secretary assistant to the executive vice president before retiring a second time in 1971.

His interests included calligraphy, ceramics and sandpainting.

Capt. Gordon was a Mason, a member of the Scottish Rite Consistory of Maryland and a former member of Cornerstone Lodge No. 224 in Maryland.

He was a member of the Disabled American Veterans, the Toastmasters, the Heritage Beth Investment Club, an Mended Hearts Inc., a nonprofit support group for heart surgery patients.

Survivors include his wife of 48 years, Annette, of Davie, Fla.; a son, Howard E., of Hollywood, Fla.; two daughters, Ellen F. Schwartz of Los Altos, Calif., and Robert H. Gordon of Miami; a sister, Dena E. Shatenstein of Mitchellville, Md., and six grandchildren.,

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society or to Mended Hearts Inc., c/o the American Heart Association.