Elsie May Jenkins, 76, a retired private duty nurse who was active in Catholic church and charitable organizations, died of cardiac arrest Friday at Washington Hospital Center.She lived in Washington.

Born in Coltons Point, Md., Mrs. Jenkins moved to Washington with her family at age two. She attended Catholic schools and graduated from old Freedmen's Hospital School of Nursing. She was a nurse at Freedmen's and St. Elizabeths Hospital until about 1940.

She then worked as a private duty nurse, accompanying patients to Europe and South America, until her retirement in 1960.

Mrs. Jenkins was activities director and a member of the church council at St. Aloysius Catholic Church here and was hostess of a radio program broadcast from the church in the mid-1970s. She sponsored lunches, fashion shows and trips to benefit the church and also worked on behalf of the SOME House (So Others May Eat).

In 1978, Mrs. Jenkins traveled to Cartagena, Colombia, to dedicate a Catholic church she built there in memory of her mother.

She received many awards and citations for her charitable works, including a letter of appreciation from Pope John XXIII.

Her marriage to the late James A. Jenkins ended in divorce.

Survivors include a daughter, Nicarsia Mayes of Hillcrest Heights and three grandchildren.