W. Brice O'Brien, 63, the vice president for law and government relations of the National Coal Association from 1963 until he retired in 1979, died of a heart attack Oct. 23 at the Liberty Nursing Home in Allentown, Pa.

Mr. O'Brien was born in Yale, S.D. In World War II, he was a pilot in the Army Air Forces. He was shot down over Europe and spent 11 months as a prisoner of war.

In 1945, he moved to Washington and joined the National Coal Association. He earned a law degree at the Columbus School of Law. From 1957 to 1963, he was an attorney for the American Mining Congress. He then returned to the coal association.

He lived in Wheaton until moving to Allentown when he retired.

His first wife, the former Frances Voith, died in 1959. His second wife, the former Annette Murphy, died in 1981.

Survivors include three daughters by his first marriage, Coleen O'Brien, Kathleen Durant and Sharon Sykes, all of Macungie, Pa.; five sisters, Maxine Thompson of Brookings, S.D., Lucille O'Brien of Cavour, S.D., Elaine Bordenet of Indianapolis, Loraine Shultz of Washington, and Irene Brown of Huron, S.D., and two brothers, Luverne and Merlin, both of Minneapolis.