Palmer St. Clair Rutherford, 81, a retired teacher and guidance counselor at McLean High School who had been an athletics official at the Central YMCA in Washingon, died of cardiac arrest Feb. 2 at the University of Virginia Hospital in Charlottesville.

Mr. Rutherford, who lived in Alexandria, was born in Bristol, Va. He graduated from Roanoke College in Salem, Va., and later received a master's degree from George Washington University. He was a teacher and coach at schools in Beford and Abingdon, Va., before moving to the Washington area in 1942. From 1934 to 1945, he also was associate director of Camp Letts, a YMCA facility in Edgewater, Md.

He joined the Central YMCA here in 1942 and was director of boys athletics there until 1956. From 1956 until he retired in 1967, he was a guidance counselor and also taught English and government at McLean High.

Mr. Rutherford was a trustee of the Crossman Methodist Church in Falls Church and active in the Boy Scouts.

Survivors include his wife, the former Mary Bane Kelly, of Alexandria; two daughters, Jane R. Muscetta of Stamford, Conn., and Ann R. Gunderson of Fairfax; a son, Palmer St. Clair Jr. of Chesapeake, Va., and seven grandchildren.