Evelyn C. Irons, 61, a retired government employe who was a secretary and staff assistant to high federal officals in the 1960s and 1970s, died of cancer Nov. 6 in Arlington Hospital. She lived in Arlington.

Miss Irons was a native of Wilmington, Del., and moved here in 1949. She became a secretary at the Pentagon later that year. Between 1964 and 1969, she was a secretary and assistant to Joe Califano, when he was a Pentagon and White House official.

From 1969 to 1971, she worked for the old Budget Bureau and Roy Ash. She then became a staff assistant and secretary to James R. Schlesinger when he was head of the Atomic Energy Commission. She remained with him during his tenure as director of Central Intelligence and secretary of Defense. She then worked with him at Johns Hopkins University.

She was Schlesinger's secretary when he returned to government in 1977 as President Carter's energy adviser and then first energy secretary.

Miss Irons retired when Schlesinger left government in 1979.

Her marriage to Francis McVey ended in divorce.

Survivors include a son, Lane of Fairfax; her father, Henry S. Irons, and a brother, Henry S. Jr., both of Naples, Fla., and one grandchild