John F. DeVries Sr., 52, retired chief of the Gaithersburg Police Force and a veteran of 25 years with the Montgomery County Police, died Friday in a hospital in Lewes, Del., after a heart attack. He was vacationing at the time he was stricken.

Chief DeVries was a lieutenant in the Montgomery County Police and had been commander of the traffic division and deputy commander of the special operations division before retiring from that force in 1977. He became chief of police of Gaithersburg later that year, a post he held until retiring a second time in May 1980.

He had served on the executive board of the Maryland Chiefs of Police. He was a member of the Fraternal Order of Police and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

He was a cofounder of the Wheaton Rescue Squad and was a member of the Knights of Columbus of Gaithersburg and Masonic Lodge No. 17 of Washington. He also belonged to the Izack Walton League.

Chief DeVries was a native of Washington, lived in Wheaton from 1949 to 1956, and then in Rockville until his death. He served with the Army in the 82nd Airborne Division during World War II. He was in the Navy during the Korean conflict.

He was a consultant for Safety and Survival Inc., a private, non-profit organization dealing with accident prevention programs.

Survivors include his wife, Mary, of Rockville; a son, Montomery County Police Cpl. John Jr., also of Rockville; three daughters, Christine Suter of Uniontown, Pa., and Elizabeth DeVries and Maryjo Boyle, both of Gaithersburg; his mother, Blanche DeVries of Alexandria; two brothers, Ronald, of Monrovia, Md., and Louis, of California; three sisters, Jean DeVreis of Alexandria, and Regina Whalen and Ada Curtiss, both of Rockville, and four randchildren.