Jean M. Glendening, 54, a retired registered nurse who had worked for the Arlington County Human Resources Department, died of cancer July 23 at Arlington Hospital. She lived in Arlington.

Mrs. Glendening spent about eight years with the county, at Prelude House, a drug rehabilitation house, and with Arlington's geriatric clinic, before retiring in 1978. She also had been a nurse at Alexandria Hospital in the late 1960s. She had served on the citizens advisory committee for Camelot Hall nursing home in Arlington.

She had served on the board of trustees of the Unitarian Church of Arlington, and had edited its newsletter.

Mrs. Glendening was born in New Jersey and earned her bachelor's degree in nursing at the Columbia Presbyterian School of Nursing in New York City. She was a nurse in Wilmington, Del., and lived in Seattle before moving here in 1967.

Her husband, Alan Sanford Glendening, died in 1979.

Survivors include three daughters, Lee G. Koss, of Wynnewood, Pa., Alicia B. Glendening of Alexandria, and Claire W. Glendening of Arlington; a brother, Frederick T. Marston of California, and three sisters, Nancy M. Peters of Wilmington, Mason M. Daley of West Chester, Pa., and Virginia M. Lindley of Pinehurst, N.C.