Richard Jefferson Winter, 42, a former dance instructor in the Washington area, died Oct. 7 at St. Mary's Hospital in Leonardtown, Md. He had cancer.

Mr. Winter was born in Annapolis and grew up there and in the Baltimore area and in Silver Spring. He was a graduate of Montgomery Blair High School.

About 1957, he went to work as an instructor in the Arthur Murray dance studio in Washington. In the early 1960's, he worked briefly for the Fred Astaire studio and then started his own studio in Wheaton. About 1964, he moved to Atlanta, where he taught dancing. He also was a partner in a dance studio in Canada during this period. In 1967, he returned to this area and lived in Ridge, Md.

In subsequent years, Mr. Winter was employed as a painter, carpenter, landscape gardener and in other jobs and he lived in Huntington, W. Va., and Boston. He returned to Ridge in 1979 for reasons of health. He gave dancing classes at the Patuxent Naval Air Station and at the American Legion Post in Ridge until his retirement at the end of last year.

His marriage to the former Kathleen Creamer ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, Janis P., of Boston; a son by his first marriage, Richard J. Jr., a Navy seaman who is stationed aboard the aircraft carrier Eisenhower; his mother and stepfather, Genevieve and Raymond C. Roberts Sr. of Ridge; two sisters, Barbara Hinton of Baltimore and Norma Ince of Scotland, Md., and one brother, Robert, also of Ridge.