Sylvia Hechinger Weiss, 85, who was active in civic, cultural and religious organizations in Washington for many years, and was the mother of John W. Hechinger, president of the Hechinger Company, died Saturday in a Palm Beach, Fla., hospital, after a stroke.

Mrs. Weiss was married for 42 years to Sidney L. Hechinger, the founder of the Hechinger Company, a lumber and hardware chain. He died in 1958.

Mrs. Weiss was born in Baltimore and attended Goucher College there before marrying in 1916 and moving to Washington.

During World War II, she was active in the Community Chest, the Urban League, and the D.C. Society of Crippled Children. She was chairman of the Embassy Tours and also was president of the Goodwill Industries Guild.

During the 1960s and 1970s, she was president of the Kaufman Camp for Boys and Girls, served on the board of the Jewish Community Center, and was active in the Woman's National Democratic Club.

She was a member of the National Council of Jewish Women, and the National Conference of Christians and Jews. She served on committees for the Kennedy Center and Brandeis University.

In 1967, she received the Women's Advertising Club of Washington's "Recognition For Achievement" award for her work in volunteer community service.

Mrs. Weiss was an art and antique collector. In 1967, she married Edward H. Weiss, and has lived in Palm Beach since 1976.

In addition to her husband, of the home in Florida, and her son, who lives in Washington, survivors include a daughter, Lois Hechinger England, also of Washington, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to Goodwill Industries.