Joseph R. (Joe) Holmes, 55, a White House aide who also served President Reagan when Reagan was governor of California, and who was known for his expertise in media relations, died May 27 of cancer at George Washington University Hospital. He was a resident of San Diego.

Mr. Holmes, a special assistant to the president and coordinator of audio-visual operations in the White House, joined Reagan's staff while he was governor of California, and was a press aide during the 1980 presidential campaign.

He served as acting press secretary for about a month early in the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. After Reagan's election, Mr. Holmes was named his spokesman on the West Coast.

At the time of his death, Mr. Holmes was in charge of a project to compile a videotape history of the Reagan presidency to eventually be made available to scholars and to be included in a Reagan library.

Reagan issued a statement that he, his wife Nancy and the entire White House staff were deeply saddened by the death of "our dear friend and respected colleague."

"Joe Holmes was a valued friend and a trusted aide," Reagan said. "We can't help but admire the courage and tenacity with which Joe battled his cancer, always maintaining his sense of humor and conducting business from his bed until the very end," the president said.

Mr. Holmes was born in Scranton, Pa., and served in the Navy, where he became a journalist. He was editor of the Guam News in the early 1950s and later went to Hollywood, where he worked as a press agent. One of his most prominent clients was actress Jill St. John.

He later founded and edited the San Diego Dispatch and operated a cable television advertising business before he joined the Reagan staff in 1971.

His marriage to Ann Holmes, of San Diego, ended in divorce.

Survivors include two sons, Tom and Quinlan, both of San Diego.