William Talbot Howell, 68, a retired deputy treasurer of the United States and a former of the Washington area resident, died of pneumonia Saturday at a hospital in Charles Town, W.Va.

A native of Carlisle, Ky., he lived in Alexandria before moving to Leesburg, Va., in 1973.

Mr. Howell, who earned a law degree from Southeastern University here, joined the Treasury Department in 1936. He was appointed deputy treasurer in 1957 and served twice as acting treasurer of the United States before retiring in 1972.

In 1962, he was appointed acting treasurer by President John F. Kennedy after the resignation of Treasurer Elizabeth R. Smith. He again served as acting treasurer in 1966, during competency hearings for Kathryn O'Hay Granahan. Granahan, then 70, had undergone surgery to remove a blood clot on her brain the previous year.

Mr. Howell served as a lieutenant in the Navy during World War II. He was a member of the D.C. Bar Association.

Survivors included his wife, Edith; three daughters, Jean H. Row of Southport, Conn., Martha H. Whitney of Booklyn, N.Y., and Kathryn H. Hollen of Hamilton, Va.; a sister, Sara Howell of Washington, and five grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Summer Camp Fund of The Washington Star, to the New York City Public Library, or to the Sierra Club, Washington, D.C.