Rebecca Cooper Underwood Hoke, 78, a retired Census Bureau employe and a lifelong Washington resident who was active in hospital, church and charitable groups, died of congestive heart failure Thursday at Providence Hospital.

In the late 1920s, Mrs. Hoke went to work for the federal government. She worked for the Library of Congress and the Departments of Justice and Labor before transfering to the Census Bureau in 1939. She was an archive assistant before transferring tothe foreign trade division, from which she retired at the age of 70 in 1973 as a statistical clerk. The next day, she returned to the Census Bureau as a rehired annuitant, retiring a second time in 1976.

Mrs. Hoke was a graduate of Dunbar High School. In 1925, she earned a bachelor's degree in French from Howard University. Before beginning her government career, she worked as a secretary and assistant to the late Bishop C. L. Russell of the Christian Methodist Church here and taught French in the Montgomery County public school system for more than two years. During that time, she also tutored students in French at the Southwest Community Center in Washington.

She was a member of the Israel Metropolitan C.M.E. here for nearly 70 years and had served as a Sunday School teacher and superintendent there. She was a former president of the church's Altar Guild.

Mrs. Hoke, who had lived with a niece, Geraldine Swann, for the past 25 years, was active in the Boys Club of Greater Washington and in the Sarah Gray Service League here. She was a member of the Howard University Alumni Association and the Howard University Hospital Womens' Auxiliary.

Her marriage to Charles Hoke ended in divorce.

Survivors include a sister, Nellie Perry, and a brother, Spooner Underwood, both of Washington.