Roswell Newcomb Pinckney, 84, a retired State Department employe and salesman for the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, died Saturday at the Crawford Long Hospital in Atlanta. He had a heart ailment.

Mr. Pinckney, who lived in Fairmount Heights, was stricken while returning home from a trip to Louisiana.

He was born in Albany, N.Y., and grew up in Washington, where he graduated from the old M Street High School and Howard University.

He began his career at the State Department in 1917 and was a supervisor in its communications section at the time of his retirement in 1960. From 1925 until 1960, he also sold insurance for North Carolina Mutual Life.

Mr. Pinckney was active in Masonic organizations. He was a member of Fairmount Lodge No. 92, the Columbine Chapter No. 46 of the Order of the Eastern Star, Fairmount Court No. 8 of the Heroines of Jericho and the Myra Amaranth Court No. 1 in Baltimore.

A member of Sargent Memorial Presbyterian Church in Washington, he served as an elder and a trustee and was a former member of the choir.

His wife, Edna W. Pinckney, died in 1969.

Survivors include one son, Roswell H., of Washington, one sister, Mae P. McGee of Upper Marlboro; one brother, Dr. Theodore R. Pinckney of Washington, and two granddaughters.