Judge Thomas Minor Anderson, 78, who retired in 1972 as a judge on the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, died of an embolism Saturday at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.

Judge Anderson was appointed to the 6th Judicial Circuit by Gov. Theodore McKeldin in 1954 and then was elected to a 15-year term on that bench. In 1966, he was elevated to the Court of Special Appeals in Annapolis by Gov. J. Millard Tawes.

A 1963 editorial in The Washington Post hailed Judge Anderson for a dcision he handed down in a case in which he sentenced some persons convicted of embezzling funds from a savings and loan institution to as much as nine years in prison. The Post said: "If justice consists of making the punishment fit the crime, it was well exemplified by the sentences Judge Anderson meted out. We are glad that a stern judge with a feeling for the swindled public has exacted justice."

Judge Anderson was a Republican and a lifelong resident of Rockville. His ancestors first came to the Rockville area in 1754. Judge Anderson's grandfather, John T. Vinson, had served as a Republican member of the 6th Judicial District during the 19th century.

Judge Anderson was a graduate of St. Albans School and a 1927 graduate of the University of Virginia's law school. He practiced law in Rockville before going on the bench. He was a former president of Montgomery County National Bank.

He had been president of the Montgomery County Bar Association, the Montgomery County Historical Society and the Rockville Rotary Club and a member of the Chevy Chase Club. He was a vestryman of Christ Episcopal Church in Rockville.

Judge Anderson's wife, Berthy G. Anderson, died last November. His survivors include two sons, Thomas Minor, Jr., a Rockville attorney and former Republican state senator, and Father George Anderson S.J. of Washington.

The family suggests that expression of sympathy be in the form of contributions to Christ Episcopal Church in Rockville, the Montgomery County Historical Society or to a charity of one's choice.