Retired Sgt. Maj. Donald Merrill Jones, 57, who spent 30 years in the Army before retiring from the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1976, died of cancer June 18 in the Bethesda Naval Hospital. He had made his home in this area for the past 35 years and lived in Rockville.

Mr. Jones was a native of Utah. During his military career he played in Army bands in this country and abroad, and held assignments dealing with electronics and photography. After serving in Vietnam, he was assigned to the Defense Atomic Support Agency, where he was stationed from 1968 to 1970.

Since retiring from the Army, Mr. Jones had been a free-lance photographer and was a photographer with the Touchdown Club and the Daughters of the American Revolution here.

Mr. Jones was an elder in the Rockville Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Survivors include his wife, Wilma of Rockville; two sons, Gregory of Upper Marlboro, and Steven of Atlanta; a daughter, Diana Boyd of Provo, Utah; his mother, Gwen Jones of Sparks, Nev.; two brothers, Frank of Sacramento, Calif., and Edward of Sparks; a sister, Ardyth Howard of Sacramento, and one grandchild.