Richard S. Reynolds Jr., 72, retired president and chairman of the board of the Reynolds Metals Co., died Sunday in his home in Richmond after an apparent heart attack.

Mr. Reynolds joined the concern in 1938 as assistant to the president. In 1944 he was elected vice president and treasurer, and became president of Reynolds Metals in 1948. In 1963 he became chairman of the board of directors, stepping down from that post in 1976. Since 1977, he has been honorary chairman of the board.

He was a former president of the Aluminum Association of American and an honorary member of the American Institutes of Architects. He also had been a trustee of the National Safety Council and a past president of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce.

He was active in civic and political organizations in Virginia, serving as financial adviser to several Democratic candidates for statewide office. He also was appointed to a national arts council by President John F. Kennedy.

In 1968, he was the recipient of a Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee and in 1974 received the B'nai B'rith National Humanitarian Award. He was the 1977 recipient of the Virginia Chamber of Commerce's distinguished service award. He was a director of the Boys Club of America and the recipient of the organization's Silver Keystone Award.

Mr. Reynolds was a trustee emeritus of the University of Pennsylvania, member of the board of trustees of the University of Richmond, and member of the finance committee of the Union Theological Seminary.

He was a native of Winston-Salem, N.C. He attended Davidson College in North Carolina and was a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Finance.

In 1930 Mr. Reynolds, with two partners formed the banking firm of Reynolds & Company in New York City. He also became a member of the New York stock exchange that same year. He left the banking business to join Reynolds Metals in 1938.

Reynolds Metals had been founded by Mr. Reynolds' father, the late Richard S. Reynolds, in 1919. It originally was a small foil firm to make wrappings for cigarettes manufactured by the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco company. Richard S. Reynolds Sr. was a nephew of R. J. Reynolds.

Mr. Reynolds was a member of the Metropolitan Club in Washington. He was a 32nd-degree Mason.

He had been an elder of the Second Presbyterian Church in Richmond.

Survivors include his wife, Virginia Sargeant Reynolds; a son, Richard S. III, and his mother, Louise Parham Reynolds, all of Richmond; three brothers, William G., of Bal Harbour, Fla., and David P. and J. Louis, both of Richmond, and seven grandchildren.

Another son, J. Sargeant Reynolds, was lieutenant governor of Virginia at the time of his death in 1971.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Boys Club of Richmond, the University of Richmond, or a charity of one's choice.