Joseph H. Ratner, 78, a violinist who played with Paul Whiteman's Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra and later owned a music store, died Thursday at Calvert Memorial Hospital in Prince Frederick, Md., following a stroke.

Mr. Ratner, who lived in Lusby, Md., was born in Russia and came to Washington about 1905. He graduated from the old Central High School. In the early 1920s, he joined the Paul Whiteman Orchestra and later played with Arthur Godfrey's band.

In the early 1930s, Mr. Ratner joined the newly formed National Symphony Orchestra. During World War II, he served in the Navy and became a member and an assistant conductor of the Navy Symphony Orchestra. He also conducted the Navy Dance Band.

Following the war, he established Ratner's Music Store in Washington and operated that business until he retired in 1961.

Mr. Ratner was a Mason, a member of the D.C. Hebrew Beneficial Association and the Lions Club and a volunteer at Calvert Memorial Hospital.

Survivors include his wife, Pearl, of Lusby; three sons, Fredric, of Rockville, Tomas, of Coral Gables, Fla., and Stanley, of Silver Spring; two brothers, Louis, of Palm Air, Fla., and Benjamin, of San Diego, Calif.; seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Joseph H. Ratner Memorial Fund of Calvert Memorial Hospital, Prince Frederick, Md.