Edward Allison McDowell III, 53, a professor of English and philosophy at Montgomery College since 1960, died of cardio-pulmonary arrest Dec. 18 at George Washington University Hospital.

Mr. McDowell was a native of Columbia, S.C., and a graduate of Furman University. He earned a master's degree in English at Vanderbilt University and a master's degree in divinity at Yale University.

He served on the faculty of Stetson University in DeLand, Fla., and Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., before coming to Montgomery College.

A former resident of Montgomery County, he had lived in Washington since 1977. Mr. McDowell was a poet who had works published in various literary reviews and had given a reading of his poetry at the Library of Congress in the Spring of 1980.

His marriages to the former Mary Ann King and the former Patricia Anderson both ended in divorce.

Mr. McDowell's survivors include a son, Stephen K., of Stone Mountain, Ga., and a daughter, Elizabeth Dement of Normandy, Tenn., both by his first marriage; a son, A. Scott, of Frostburg, and two daughters, Allison P. and Anne S. McDowell, both of Washington and all by his second marriage; a sister, Elizabeth Smith of Virginia Beach, and two grandchildren.