Christine Sadler Coe, 81, a former reporter for The Washington Post and Washington editor of McCall's Magazine and the author of several biographical works, died of cardiac arrest June 25 at George Washington University Hospital.

Mrs. Coe, who lived in Washington, was known professionally as Christine Sadler. She was the wife of Richard L. Coe, drama critic emeritus of The Post.

She was born in Silver Point, Tenn., graduated from Peabody College and began her career in journalism on the Nashville (Tenn.) Banner. She earned a master's degree in journalism at Columbia University in New York and joined The Post in 1937.

In 1940, she helped cover the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia that nominated Wendell Wilkie to run against President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

She was the first woman on The Post's staff to receive such an assignment, and she continued to cover national conventions for this newspaper and other publications for 30 years.

In 1946, she became Washington editor of McCall's and continued that work until her retirement in 1971. She also did special assignments for The Post and contributed to Canadian and British publications.

Her books included "America's First Ladies" and "Children of the White House." At the time of her death, she was working on a collection of 50 letters by Nellie Parke Custis, stepgranddaughter of George Washington, which is to be called "America's First Princess."

In addition to covering political conventions, Mrs. Coe's assignments at The Post included World War II agencies, Capitol Hill and the White House, and the funeral of Roosevelt. She also covered Eleanor Roosevelt's news conferences and later persuaded her to write a column for McCall's.

Mrs. Coe was a personal friend of first ladies from Mrs. Woodrow Wilson through Patricia Nixon and Betty Ford. In 1966, she hired Lynda Bird Johnson, one of President Lyndon B. Johnson's daughters and now Mrs. Charles Robb, the wife of the governor of Virginia, to work for McCall's.

Mrs. Coe frequently appeared on radio and television programs. She was a past president of the Women's National Press Club, now the Washington Press Club, a member and officer of the Woman's National Democratic Club and a charter member of the Defense Advisory Committee for Women in the Armed Services. She was a trustee of Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.

She was one of 10 women chosen by the State Department for an official tour of West Germany in memory of President John F. Kennedy.

In private life, Mrs. Coe was a painter and frequently accompanied her husband to the theater. She exchanged paintings with other amateur artists, including Beatrice Lillie, Tony Curtis, Carol Channing and Shirley Booth.

In addition to her husband, of Washington, survivors include three sisters, Martha and Mary Sue Sadler and Cordell Lundy, all of Silver Point, and two brothers, Phillip Sadler of Pulaski, Tenn., and James C. Sadler of Honolulu.