LaRue Van Meter, 83, the city attorney of Falls Church from 1948 until his retirement in 1974 and a member of the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame, was found dead Thursday at his home in Falls Church. The Northern Virginia medical examiner's office said he died of a heart attack.

Mr. Van Meter, who was born in Williamsville, Ill., was graduated from Illinois Wesleyan College. He served in the Army in World War I and later was a teacher and basketball coach at Illinois high schools and at Illinois College, which won the state intercollegiate championship under his guidance. In 1976, Mr. Van Meter was inducted into the Illinois Basketball Hall of Fame.

In 1938, he moved to the Washington area and went to work for the Justice Department. He also studied law at George Washington University, where he got his degree in 1943. From 1943 until 1948, when Falls Church became a city, he was the town attorney as well as working at Justice. In 1948, when Falls Church needed a fulltime city attorney, he took that post and held it until he retired.

Among the matters on which Mr. Van Meter worked were the city charter, the establishment of an independent school system and an ordinance regulating massage parlors in Falls Church.

Since retiring, he had been in the private practice of law.

Mr. Van Meter was a member of the Toastmasters International, the Falls Church Lions Club, the Greater Falls Church Chamber of Commerce, the American Legion, the Fairfax and Virginia bar associations and the Dulin United Methodist Church. He was a charter member of the Falls Church Literary Society.

His wife, the former Irma Watkins, died in 1967.

Survivors include two children, LaRue Jr., of Alexandria, and Nathan Zane, of Orlando, Fla.; a sister, Mrs. Roy Hettick of Greenfield, Ill.; a brother, Jerome Van Meter of Leesburg, Fla., and five grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the LaRue Van Meter Memorial Fund, Illinois College, Jacksonville, Ill., 62650.