Clayton L. Shirey, 61, a retired official of the Central Intelligence Agency and a resident of the Washington area since 1948, died of cardiac arrest Sunday at his home in Beltsville.

Mr. Shirey was born in Port Carbon, Pa., and attended Pennsylvania State University. He went into the Army in World War II and began his career in intelligence when he was assigned to the Office of Strategic Services, a predecessor of the CIA. He served in Africa, Corsica, Sicily and Italy.

He went back to Port Carbon after the war and in 1946 married the former Doris Miller. He then moved to Massachusetts, where he went to work for another of the predecessors of the CIA. In 1948, a year after the CIA was organized, he was transferred to Washington.

In the course of his career with the agency, Mr. Shirey served in Britain, Panama, Greece and Germany. He also had a number of assignments in Washington. In 1972, he underwent heart surgery and retired the following year for reasons of health. He was awarded the CIA's Honorable Service Medal.

Mr. Shirey had worked in recent years as a part-time real estate agent. He also was a member of the Young at Heart senior citizens group and the Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Beltsville.

In addition to his wife of Beltsville, survivors include one daughter, Gail Northrop of University Park; three sons, Robert C. and Kenneth L., both of Lanham, and William R. of Beltsville; two sisters, Naomi Yost of Port Carbon, and Clarice Rudloff of Cleveland, Ohio, and two grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Heart Fund, or to the Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Beltsville.