John E. Byrne Sr., 88, a founder and retired president of the Byrne Organization, a construction company, died of cancer Aug. 13 at his home in McLean.

Mr. Byrne was born in Casey, Iowa, and attended Drake University. He was a rancher and cattle buyer in Cuba and then went into real estate and construction in Tampa, Fla. In the mid-1930s, he founded the Byrne Organization in Dallas.

During World War II, he moved to Washington because his company was engaged in war work, including facilities for the Navy in Norfolk and Pearl Harbor and elsewhere in the Pacific.

After the war, he helped pioneer the use of prefabricated steel frame housing. These were used in the Harundale community in Glen Burnie, Md., and at several locations in the Midwest.

In 1950, Mr. Byrne retired as head of his company. Two years later, he founded Byrne International, which did construction work in Turkey and was a consultant on construction projects elsewhere in the world. He retired from that company about 1960.

In the late 1950s, Mr. Byrne moved from Bethesda to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He returned here about two years ago and settled in McLean.

Survivors include his wife, the former Ethel Futrell, of McLean; four children, John E. Jr., of Bethesda, Mrs. Robert S. Walker, of Omaha, Neb., and Palm Springs, Calif.; Mrs. R. J. Windrow, of Dallas, and Dr. Robert E., of Cumberland, Md.; 10 grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.