Virginia Mitchell Clapper, 73, a former teacher at the University of Maryland who taught for 37 years at public and private schools in Washington, died of cancer Oct. 28 at her home in Chevy Chase.

Mrs. Clapper began teaching Latin and Greek in 1930 at the old Miss Porter's School on Massachusetts Avenue. She continued at Elliot Junior High, and finished her career with the District school system at Gordon Junior High in 1967. In 1968, she went to the University of Maryland at College Park, where she taught Latin and mythology until her retirement in 1978.

She was the author of four handbooks for Latin teachers and, with Sylvia Gerber, cowrote three Latin textbooks.

Mrs. Clapper was born in Lansdowne, Pa., and moved to Washington in 1925. She had lived in Chevy Chase since 1956.

She earned bachelor's and master's degrees from George Washington University. She also took courses at Catholic University. She was a student and teaching assistant in modern Greek at Georgetown University when she died.

Mrs. Clapper was a former member of the Washingon Figure Skating Club and a former volunteer at Suburban Hospital.

Her marriage to Edward Brown Jr. ended in divorce. Her second husband, Harold T. Clapper, to whom she was married for 31 years, died in 1977.

Survivors include two children by her first marriage, Richard S. Brown of Burke, and Barbara Mayo-Wells of Mount Airy, Md., and a brother, Thomas W. Mitchell of Ridgewood, N.J.