Bradley B. Smith Sr., 78, a retired examiner for the Civil Service Commission and a lifelong Washington area resident, died of congestive heart failure Tuesday at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring.

Mr. Smith, who was born in Washington, began his government career while attending the law school of Georgetown University, where he earned his degree in 1928. His first job was being a messenger for economics adviser Bernard Baruch.

In the 1930s and early 1940s, he was director of investigations for the Interior Department. He later worked for the Office of Price Administration and joined the Civil Service Commission in the mid-1940s. He was an organization and methods examiner when he retired in 1965.

A resident of Silver Spring, Mr. Smith was a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church there. He also was a member of the Rosensteel Council of the Knights of Columbus and a past director of the Cardinal O'Boyle 4th Degree General Assembly. He was a former president of the Washington area chapter of the Jesuit Guild and the Gonzaga College High School Fathers' Club.

Survivors include his wife, the former Hope Ritter, of Silver Spring; four sons, Bradley Jr., of Silver Spring, Raymond R., of Bowie, Walter R., of Kensington, and Michael J. A., of Bloomfield, N.J.; three daughters, Hope H., of Silver Spring, Sally (Sister Anne Mary, I.H.M.) of Scranton, Pa., and Mary T. DeAndrade of Leawood, Kan., 17 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.