Richard Eppes Shands, 83, a Washington attorney for nearly 60 years who served as chairman of the Fairfax County School Board and as an Episcopal church layman, died Thursday at Georgetown University Hospital after a heart attack. He lived in Great Falls, Va.

Mr. Shands had practiced law until about a week ago and was a partner in the Washington law firm of Faulkner, Shands, Stupar and Tucker. He was a member of the D.C. Virginia and American Bar associations.

Born and reared in Washington, he graduated from old Western High School. He also graduated, in 1921, from the University of Virginia and was a graduate of its law school. He later earned a master of law degree from George Washington University. He served as a Navy officer in World War I.

A member of the Fairfax County School Board for more than nine years, he served as its chairman in 1954. He was a former president of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and the McLean Lions Club.

Mr. Shands also was a former president of the National Capital Area Chapter of the Boy Scouts of America. He was a member of the Chevy Chase and University clubs.

Active in Episcopal Diocesan work, he helped with the legal work for the establishment of the Episcopal Home for the Aged in Georgetown and served as a vertryman and treasurer of Epiphany Episcopal Church here.

Survivors include his wife of 45 years, the former Katherine Snyder of Great Falls; a brother, Dr. Alfred A. Shands of Wilmington, Del. and a sister, Agnes Shands of Washington.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to a charity of one's choice.