Rita H. O'Connor, 56, a former Washington area resident and past president of the Officers Wives Club at Andrews Air Force Base Systems Command, died of cancer Tuesday at a hospital in Ridgewood, N.J.

Mrs. O'Connor, who was born in Highland Falls, N.Y., lived at Andrews and in McLean before moving to Wyckoff, N.J., three years ago.

She came to this area in 1959 when her husband, Edmund F. O'Connor, a retired Air Force lieutenant general, was transferred to Air Force headquarters here.

Earlier, Mrs. O'Connor had accompanied her husband to military posts in this country and in Korea, where she aslo was active in officers wives groups.

She was active as a hospital volunteer for more than 30 years and had helped care for returning Vietnam veterans at Andrews.

Mrs. O'Connor was a member of the Washington chapter of the West Point Society.

Besides her husband, of Wyckoff, survivors include three sons, William E., of San Diego, Michael R., of Vail, Colo., and Terrance P., of Washington; a daughter, Patricia Gahr of East Tawas, Mich; two brothers, James Hogan of Highland Falls, and Dr. John D. Hogan of Glen Rock, N.J.; a sister, Katherine Carroll of Nashville, Tenn., and five grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Little Sisters of the Poor in Totowa, N.J.