Charles M. Stearns, 62, a retired government employe and longtime area resident, died of cancer Nov. 25 at Anne Arundel General Hospital in Annapolis. He lived in West River, Md.

Mr. Stearns was born in Greenwich, Conn. He graduated from harvard University. In World War II, he served in the Navy in Washington, attaining the rank of lieutenant commander.

After the war, he was a writer and editor with McGraw-Hill and an assistant to the president of the California Institute of Technology. He returned to Washington in 1951 and spent the next 10 years as an editor and assistant director in the Navy's operations evaluation group.

Between 1961 and 1967, he worked for the National Science Foundation's office of science information services and the Commerce Department's office of technical services. From 1967 until retiring in 1976, he worked for the Transportation Department and the Commerce Department's telecommunication's office.

Mr. Stearns was a member of the Arundel Yacht Club and the Dickerson Sailing Association.

His marriage to the former Arabelle Lyman ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, the former Caroline Fairley, of West River; three children by his first marriage, Christopher, of San Diego, Peter, of Georgia, and Susan of Herndon, Va.; a brother, John F., of Bradenton, Fla.; a sister, Helen Hand of Malone, N.Y., and a half brother, Timothy Stearns of Ridgely, Md.