Lester T. Walter, 83, the principal of Bell Vocational High School in Washington when he retired in 1961 with 37 years of service in the D.C. schools, died of cancer Nov. 10 at the home of a daughter in Richmond.

Mr. Walter, who lived in Philomont in Loudoun County, was born at Shawnee On Delaware, Pa. He graduated from Pennsylvania State University and moved to Washington in 1924 to begin his teaching career.

He was principal of Powell Junior High before being appointed principal of Bell. In 1960, he moved from Bethesda to Philomont.

Mr. Walter was president of the Federal Schoolmen's Club and a member of the Lion's Club, the Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church, the Leesburg Presbyterian Church and the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Purcellville, Va.

He was a member of the Lovettsville (Va.) Farmers Club and the Loudoun Golf and Country Club.

His wife, Anita Anderson Walter, died in 1979.

Survivors include five children, Bruce Eliot, of Leesburg, Douglas Hill, of Damascus, Md., Nancy Walter Goyette of Canyon Country, Calif., Joan Walter Bache of Richmond, and Anita Sue Walter of Harrisburg, Pa.; a sister, Evelyn M. Heller of East Stroudsburg, Pa.; 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.