Retired Army Gen. Thomas Troy Handy, 90, a deputy chief of staff during World War II and later a commander of U.S. forces in Europe, died of a heart ailment April 14 at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Tex.

Gen. Handy, who won the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry in World War I, rose to the top of his profession as a staff officer in World War II. As deputy chief of staff of the Army, he was a principal aide of General of the Army George C. Marshall, the chief of staff. As acting chief when Marshall was absent, he transmitted the order from President Truman to carry out the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

He later commanded the 4th Army, with headquarters in San Antonio. In 1949, with the Cold War growing in menace, he was chosen to succeed Gen. Lucius D. Clay, the hero of the Berlin Airlift, as commander of U.S. forces in Europe.

In 1952, Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway was appointed to the supreme command of NATO in place of General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower. Ridgway also took command of American forces on the continent. Gen. Handy was his deputy commander until 1953.

He retired from the Army in 1954 and joined the Research Analysis Corp. in Washington. He remained with the company until 1973, when he moved to San Antonio.

Gen. Handy was born in Spring City, Tenn., the son of an itinerant Methodist minister. He attended Emory & Henry College and graduated from the Virginia Military Institute, Marshall's school, in 1914. He was commissioned in the field artillery in 1916.

In World War I, he served with the 42nd (Rainbow) Division in France, taking part in the Chateau-Thierry, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne battles. He won the DSC while serving with Company D, 168th Infantry.

After the war, he attended a number of service schools, including the Army War College, the Command and General Staff School and the Naval War College, where he was an instructor. He also taught military tactics at VMI. In 1942, he followed Eisenhower as assistant chief of staff in the operations division at the War Department. He was named deputy chief of staff of the Army in 1944.

A slender six-footer who smoked a pipe, Gen. Handy was known for his quiet manner and informality--it is said he customarily kept his office door open.

In addition to the Distinguished Service Cross, Gen. Handy held the Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf clusters, and decorations from France and Britain.

His wife, the former Mary Alma Hudson, died in 1972.

Survivors include a daughter, Mary Parker of San Antonio; a brother, Bolling H. Handy of Richmond; two stepsons, James Johnson of Hopewell, Va., and Ernst Johnson of East Greenbury, N.Y., and six grandchildren.