Elizabeth Noyes Hempstone, 88, the first president of the Junior League in Washington, the chairman of the Volunteer Services of the Annapolis and Anne Arundel Chapter of the Red Cross during World War II and the author of numerous plays, poems and essays, died of congestive heart failure Wednesday at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.

The former Elizabeth Crosby Noyes, she was born in Washington. Her father, Theodore Williams Noyes, was for 40 years the editor of The Washington Star newspaper, which was founded by her grandfather, Crosby Stuart Noyes. She attended the National Cathedral School for Girls and graduated from Miss Porter's School in Farmington, Conn. She later attended George Washington University and the University of California in Berkeley, where she studied writing and the theater.

While she was still a young woman, Mrs. Hempstone became an early volunteer at the Barney Neighborhood House. She also served on the board of Associated Charities and organized a group of friends to supply volunteers for local welfare organizations. This became the Washington chapter of the Junior League. Mrs. Hempstone was its first president and remained a member of it for the rest of her life.

Her marriage to John William Thompson ended in divorce. In 1923, she married Smith Hempstone, a Naval officer, and accompanied him to various stations in this country and to China, where he was assigned to the Yangtze River Patrol.

Beginning in 1942, the Hempstones made their home in Bethesda. During World War II, in addition to heading the Red Cross Volunteer Services in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, Mrs. Hempstone was chairman of the Red Cross Gray Ladies in Montgomery County. She was active in that organization for more than 30 years.

She was president of the Board of Lady Managers of the House of Mercy. She also was president of the Soldiers', Sailors', Marines' and Airmen's Club of Washington and of the Woman's Army and Navy League. She later was named president emeritus of both organizations.

As a writer, Mrs. Hempstone wrote a pamphlet, "T for O," which stood for "thoughtfulness for others," in 1912; a book, "Earnest Work for Earnest Workers" (1915), which described opportunities for volunteer work; two prose poems, "Legend," which was published in the Junior League Bulletin and included in "The Poetry Digest of 1939," and "Red Cross Calling," which was widely distributed by the Red Cross during the war, and several plays that were performed at benefits in Washington. Her other works included "Truly This Was the Son of God," a large-print version of the life of Christ which Mrs. Hempstone compiled and published in 1975 and which has been distributed to churches and retirement homes.

Mrs. Hempstone was a member of the American Newspaper Women's Club, the Rock Creek Women's Republican Club, the National Federation of Republican Women, the Chevy Chase Club, the Army & Navy Club, the Farmington Society of Washington, and Grace Lutheran Church in Miami Springs, Fla.

Her husband, who retired from the Navy with the rank of captain, died in 1963.

Survivors include three children by her first marriage, John W. Thompson Jr. of Chevy Chase, Elizabeth Thompson Swift of Highfield, Md., and Mary Dora Thompson English of Bethesda; two children by her second marriage, Eleanor Hempstone Bowman and Smith Hempstone Jr., both of Bethesda; one sister, Ruth Noyes Sheldon of Washington; 12 grandchildren; three step-grandchildren; 11 great-grandchildren, and five step-geat-grandchilren.