Ruth Jordan Lowell, 57, a former budget officer with the Department of the Air Force and a resident of the Washington area since 1941, died of cancer Oct. 10 at her home in Springfield Va.

Mrs. Lowell was born in Georgetown, S.C., and grew up in Oxford, N.C., where she graduated from Fuller's Business College.

She began her government career here during World War II in the Adjutant General's Office of the old War Department. Subsequently, she held various other positions with the War Department, now the Department of the Army, and with the War Assets Administration. In 1951, she joined the Department of the Air Force as a budget officer and held that job until 1965.

In 1964, she married James W. Lowell Sr., now a retired Coast Guard captain. Mrs. Lowell resigned from the government a year later.

She was a member of St. John's Lutheran Church in Alexandria and of the Reserve Officers Association Ladies.

In addition to her husband, of Springfield, survivors include three stepchildren, James W. Lowell Jr. of Sunderland, Md., Mike Lowell of Hinesville, Ga., and Karen Morgan of Bishop, Calif; one brother, Dr. M. Douglas Jordan of Fairhope, Ala., and two sisters, Ann Nauseef of Colonial Heights, Va., and Katie Fulton of Pawleys Island, S.C.