Joseph D. Wolfe, 50, a communications director for trade organization in Washington since 1972 and a former journalist and publicist in Ne York and abroad, died of cancer May 2 at George Washington University Hospital. He was a resident of Takoma Park.

Mr. Wolfe had been communications director of the Moped Association of America sine 1978. Before that, he had spent six years as communications director of the National Alliance of Business.

While working for NAB, he was project director for a public service advertisement for television that received a "Clio," a national advertising award. The advertisement urged businesses to hire the "ex-offender," persons who had been released after serving prison terms.

Mr. Wolfe was a member of the National Press Club, the Public Relations Society of America and the Screen Publicists Guild. He was the author of two books.

He was a native of New York City and a graduate of Brooklyn College. He began his carrer as a reporter with the New York Post, then became a business reporter with Fairchild Publications, and a department chief at Women's Wear Daily.

During the 1960s, he was an associate director of True Magazine and a public relations official for Columbus Pictures. From 1968 to 1970, he was head of publicity and advertising for Paramount Pictures in New York City. He moved to Washington two years later.

His marriage to the former Linda Friedman ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, Beverly T. Wolfe of Takoma Park; a daughter by his first marriage, Jessica Wolfe of New York City, and a sister, Fern Sadinsky of West Islip, N.Y.