Harold C. Edelston, 62, a specialist on management analysis for human service organizations who had served as director of United Way of America's Management and Community Studies Institute since 1972, died of a heart attack Friday in San Bernardino, Calif., while on a business trip. He lived in Beltsville.

Mr. Edelston also was a vice president of United Way of America.

He began his career in 1943 with the Federation of Social Agencies in Pittsburgh and later served as director of research programs for the Rhode Island Community Chest, the Providence Community Fund and the Providence Council of Community Services.

In 1956, he returned to Pittsburgh as associate executive director for the Health and Welfare Association of Allegheny County, Pa. He served as executive director of the Health and Welfare Council of Central Maryland in Baltimore for 10 years before moving to the Washington area.

Mr. Edelston also was a consultant to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and state and local governments and universities. In 1974, he wrote a paper on management problems of nonprofit agencies that became a benchmark for social welfare planning of local voluntary organizations.

A native of Providence, R.I., he graduated with highest honors from Brown University there in 1941. In 1963, he earned a master's degree from the Boston University School of Social Work.

Survivors include his wife, Gertrude, of Beltsville; two daughters, Hattie Katkow of Columbia, Md., and Marcia Scherr of Annandale; a son, Bruce, also of Annandale, and two grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Pioneer Women Council in Silver Spring, or to the Harold C. Edelston Scholarship Fund in care of United Way of America in Alexandria.