Julia C. Barton, 53, who retired earlier this year as assistant director of the Fairfax County Department of Social Services, died of cancer Oct. 15 at the Hospice of Northern Virginia.

Mrs. Barton, who lived in Alexandria, was born in Curwensville, Pa. She was graduated from the University of Pittsburgh and later earned a master's degree in social work at Howard University.

She moved to the Washington area in 1960 and began her career with the Fairfax social services department as a social worker in child welfare. She later became chief of social services. She was named assistant director of the department in 1974. She retired for reasons of health.

Mrs. Barton was a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers and the National Association of Social Workers. She was chairman of the Salvation Army Youth and Camp Committee, chairman and treasurer of Higher Horizons, a day care center board, and executive secretary of the advisory committee for the Mount Vernon Community Mental Health Center. She also was a member of the governor's advisory council on Indochinese refugee programs.

She received the Commissioner's Award for Outstanding Public Service from the Virginia State Department of Social Services.

Survivors include her husband, John Barton, of Alexandria.