Arthur H. Simms, 70, a retired artist with the old Civil Service Commission and the Air Force Department, died of cardiac arrest July 7 at the Reston ACCESS unit of Fairfax Hospital.

Mr. Simms, who lived in Reston, was a member of the Loudon Sketch Club, the Rockville Art League and the Greater Reston Arts Center. He did volunteer art work for the American Red Cross and also taught evening art classes for the Washington YMCA. He recently won first prize in watercolors at a show in Leesburg sponsored by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

He was a native of Grosse Point, Mich. After working as a freelance artist for several years, he joined the Army during World War II and served in the Pacific. After the war, he went to the University of Michigan, where he earned a bachelor's degree in design and a master's degree in art history.

From 1951 until 1956, Mr. Simms was an illustrator for the Army Department in San Francisco. He moved to the Washington area in 1956 and worked for the Civil Service Commission before going to France later that year as an artist with the Department of the Air Force.

In the late 1950s, he returned here and went to work for the Civil Service Commission. About 1970, he rejoined the Air Force Department and remained there until retiring in 1972.

Survivors include his wife, Ruth, whom he married in 1950, of Reston; a daughter, Marika Simms of Charlottesville; a son, Michael, of Baltimore; a sister, Inez Drake of Royal Oak, Mich., and a brother, Robert, of Detroit.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Heart Association.