Robert Lee Flanders, 59, a retired lawyer for the Department of Labor and a World War II navigator, died of cancer Thursday at George Washington University Hospital. He lived in Garrett Park.

Mr. Flanders earned a law degree from George Washington University in 1949 and practiced law in Washington for a short time before joining the Labor Department. He was special assistant to the solicitor of Labor and was assigned to the division of legislation, general legal services and employe benefits before being appointed an alternate member of the employes compensation appeals board.

After retiring in 1979, he was associated with the Washington law firm of Noble and Roberts.

Mr. Flanders was born in Wellington, Kan. He graduated from Amarillo Junior College in Texas before moving to this area in 1942. In 1947, he earned a degree in economics from George Washington University.

He was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters for his service as an Army Air Corps navigator in the Pacific theater in World War II.

Survivors include his wife of 33 years, Marian, a son, Robert A., and a daughter, Katherine Heitmann, all of Garrett Park; another son, Thomas M., of Gaithersburg; two sisters, Wilma Brazier and Barbara Langdon, both of Amarillo, and a granddaughter.