Elsie P. Brown, 73, a retired translator in the chief postal inspector's department of the U.S. Postal Service who was active in the First Baptist Church of Washington, died of cancer Sunday at George Washington University Hospital.

Miss Brown was born in Oklahoma City, Okla. She earned bachelor's and master's degrees in Romance languages at the University of Oklahoma and later studied at the universities of Chicago and Paris and at Columbia and American universities.

She taught Romance languages at Bethel College in Hopkinsville, Ky., before moving to Washington in 1948 to join the old Post Office Department as a translator. She continued that work until her retirement in 1976.

She was a member of the Society of Federal Linguists.

As a member of the First Baptist Church in Washington, Miss Brown taught Sunday School in French and Spanish for more than 25 years. She also was a member of the church's Professional Women's Circle, where she worked on international student programs, and took part in the church's ministry to patients at St. Elizabeths Hospital. In 1979, the church gave her its Harry S. Truman Award for her services over the years.

Miss Brown was a member of the Baptist World Alliance, for which she did translations, the Baptist Convention of Washington and Church Women United.

She leaves no immediate survivors.

Friends suggest that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the International Student Scholarship Fund, First Baptist Church, 16th and O streets NW, Washington, D.C. 20036.