Lillian Bossell Denell, 54, a former government employe who was active in church and charitable organizations, died of cancer Saturday at the Washington Hospital Center.

Mrs. Denell had been a member of the Redeemer Lutheran Church in Hyattsville for the past 28 years. For the past several years she had done volunteer work for Heroes Incorporated, an organization that raises funds for widows and orphans of police and firemen killed in the line of duty.

She was a native of Mattoon, Wis., and came to this area in 1950. She lived in Mount Rainier before moving to Adelphi 22 years ago.Mrs. Denell was a clerical employe of the Central Intelligence Agency for about five years before leaving the government to raise a family in 1956.

Survivors include her husband, retired D.C. Police Detective Robert G. Denell of Adelphi; a son, Thomas R., also of Adelphi; two daughters, Linda Allwang of Hyattsville, and Laura Denell of Adelphi; her mother, Bessie Johnson of Antigo, Wis., and two sisters, Lola Koeppen of Mattoon, and Marie Zarda of Denmark, Wis.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Langley-White Oak Lions Club, 1506 Merrimac Drive, Hyattsville, Md., 20783.