Robert W. Martin, 59, a retired official of the Federal Aviation Administration who was a longtime resident of Northern Virginia before retiring to South Yarmouth, Mass., in 1974, died of cancer Saturday in a hospital in Hyannis, Mass.

Mr. Martin joined the FAA in 1948 as an air traffic controller at Logan Airport in Boston. He came to Washington in 1959 as chief of the plans branch of the FAA's Air Traffic Service.

From 1964 to 1966, he was in New York City as eastern region chief of the Air Traffic Service, before returning to Washington. At the time he retired in 1974, he was deputy director of the FAA's Air Traffic Service. r

During his years with the government, he helped design systems to control planes flying at high altitude, and went to Germany and Japan to help improve air traffic control procedures there.

He was a former resident of Great Falls, Va., and had been active in the Toastmasters Club and in the Society for the Preservation and Encourgement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBQSA).

Mr. Martin was a native of Massachusetts. He served in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and worked at the Boston Navy Yard before serving in Europe, Africa, and the Pacific with the Army Air Forces during World War II.

Mr. Martin's survivors include his wife, Anna, of South Yarmouth, Mass.; two sons, Dennis A., of Las Vegas, Nev., and Christopher F., of Falls Church; three daughters, Rosemary Small of Marstons Mills, Mass., and Nancy Reisner and Jill Ottow, both of Chatham, Mass.; two sisters, Evelyn Webb of South Weymouth, Mass., and Teresa Sacks of Sudbury, Mass., and five grandchildren.