H. Cecil Kilpatrick, 84, a Washington lawyer for more than 50 years before retiring in 1978 and who was active in professional organizations, died Dec. 25 in his home in Washington following a stroke.

Mr. Kilpatrick chaired the tax section of the American Bar Association and the administrative section of the D.C. Bar Association in the early 1950s. He had served in the ABA's House of Delegates, was a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and was a member of the Lawyer's Club of Washington.

He was a member of the Chevy Chase and Metropolitan clubs.

Mr. Kilpatrick was a native of Alabama and served in the Army during World War I. He was a graduate of Auburn University and a 1922 graduate of the George Washington University law school.

He moved to the Washington area in 1915, and was an aide to Sen. Oscar W. Underwood (D-Ala.), and practiced with the Washington firm of Covington & Burling before establishing his own firm in 1925.

Survivors include his wife, Bessie S., of Washington; two sons, H. Cecil Jr., of Mobile, Ala., and Thomas H., of Los Angeles; a daughter, Ann K. Webster of Bethesda; six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.