William M. Taylor, 61, an official of the Agency for International Development since 1979 and an official of the Peace Corps from 1965 to 1972, died Thursday at George Washington University after open-heart surgery. He lived in Washington.

Mr. Taylor was the chief of AID's recruitment branch at the time of his death. During his years with the Peace Corps, he was assistant director for the program in Liberia, director in Jamaica, and finally regional director for Latin America.

A native of Toronto, Canada, Mr. Taylor was an officer in the Canadian Army during World War II. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work at the University of Toronto before coming to this country in 1950.

In addition to his government work, he had worked for social service organizations in New York City, Minneapolis and Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He was director of Traveller's Aid/International Social Service in New York before joining AID.

Survivors include his wife, the former Jean Ober of Washington; two daughters, Ruth of New York City and Elizabeth of Great Falls, Va.; three sons, Peter of Worcester, Mass., Michael of Mamaroneck, N.Y., and Andrew of Washington, and a sister Maureen Moore of Hamilton, Ontario.