Adria Catherine Lynham, 79, a former president and owner of the Washington School for Secretaries, died of cancer Saturday at her home in Naples, Fla.

Mrs. Lynham, who was born in Barbour County, W.Va., moved to Washington in 1922. She worked briefly for the government and in 1923 joined the Washington School for Secretaries. She retired in 1970 when she sold the business.

Under Mrs. Lynham, the school specialized in training executive secretaries. In addition to teaching business skills, Mrs. Lynham wrote texts on the subject and contributed to the National Education Journal and the Executive Secretary, a British publication. She also conducted seminars in Britain.

She was a past president of the Women's Advertising Club of Washington and a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, an honorary society for teachers, the National Office Managers Association and the Metropolitan Washington Advertising Club. She was a member of the board of United Business Schools and the Accrediting Commission for Business Schools.

Mrs. Lynham lived in Washington for 40 years and then in West Springfield, Va., for 18 years. She moved to Naples about two years ago.

She was a member of the Women's Golf Association of the Springfield Golf and Country Club and the Women's Golf Association of The Glades Club in Naples.

Survivors include her husband, Cameron Lynham, of Naples, and a stepdaughter, Louise Gravitt, of Raleigh, N.C.