Edward H. Thiele, 75, a Coast Guard rear admiral who was the service's engineer-in-chief for three years before retiring from active duty in 1961, died Tuesday in his home in virginia Beach after a heart attack.

Adm. Thiele, a native of Washington, was a 1924 graduate of McKinley Technical High School and a 1927 graduate of the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn. He also earned a degree in management engineering at Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.

During the 1920s he served aboard destroyers, and taught electrical engineering at the Coast Guard Academy from 1930 to 1933. In 1937, the Coast Guard placed him in charge of the study of icebreakers.

In the early stages of World War II, he surpervised the design and construction of a fleet of icebreakers, ships that kept Great Lakes ports in this country and Soviet Arctic ports operational for weeks longer than normal during the winter. Later, Adm. Thiele commanded troop transports in the Pacific.

Following the war, he held posts in Norfolk, Cleveland, and New York City. He also served in London.

After retiring from active duty, he was a vice president of the Cleveland Stevedore Company in Cleveland until 1970. He moved to Virginia Beach later that year.

Adm. Thiele was national president of the American Society of Naval Engineers in 1961, a lifetime honorary vice president of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, and a past national director of the Society of American Military Engineers. He also was a member of the Army and Navy Club.

Survivors include his wife, the former Vibeke Laub of Virginia Beach; two daughters, Barbara Holderby of Newport, R.I., and Vibeke Weber of Vienna, Va., and five grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Rescue Squad of Virginia Beach, to the American Heart Association, or to the Coast Guard Academy Foundation.