Barbara Gross Shunney, 51, a longtime area resident who was controller of the Human Resources Management Corp. in Washington, died of a pulmonary embolism May 27 in a hospital in New York City. She had entered the hospital for elective surgery.

Mrs. Shunney was born in Washington and traveled in Europe and Latin American during her youth. Her father, Gerald C. Gross, was a United Nations official. She attended the University of Lausanne in Switzerland before returning here in 1949.

She was an accountant and secretary with the Agricultural Cooprative International from 1965 to 1970, then spent five years in similar posts with the American Institute of Cooperation.

From 1977 to 1979, she worked for the National Architectural Accrediting Board where she was office manager. Before joining Human Resources earlier this year, she was finance director of the International Management and Development Institute.

Survivors include her husband, Francis P., of New Carrollton; a daughter, Stephanie Biggs of Columbia; three sons, Michael, of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., Christopher, of Greenbelt, and Timothy, of New Carrollton; her stepmother, Susan B. Gross, and a sister, Anne Taylor, both of New York City; a brother, Gerald C. Gross Jr., of Harper's Ferry, W.Va.; a stepsister, Suzanne Talbot of Alexandria; two half-sisters, Laurie Wilcox and Elizabeth Gross Wilcox, both of London, England; two grandchildren, and four stepgrandchildren.