Henry F. Lerch, 74, a lawyer and a founder of a Bethesda law firm who also was active in community organizations, died of pneumonia Jan. 9 at Suburban Hospital. He lived in Chevy Chase.

Mr. Lerch was born in Washington and graduated from the old Central High School. He graduated from Wesleyan University in Connecticut and earned a law degree at George Washington University.

He worked for the Federal Housing Administration in the late 1930s. During World War II, he served in the Army Air Forces in North Africa.

Mr. Lerch began his private law practice after the war. In 1950, he founded the firm that became Lerch, Early, Roseman and Frankel and specialized in civil, tax, and probate matters. He retired about 1976 and was of counsel with the firm until his death.

He was a member of the Montgomery County Republican Party and was a past precinct chairman. He also had been a member of the Washington Metropolitan Board of Trade, where he was a past chairman of the Public Safety Committee.

He also was a Mason and a member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Washington, where he had served on the board and was a past superintendent of the Sunday School.

Survivors include his wife, Gertrude (Bobby) Lerch of Chevy Chase; three sons, Harry W., of Bethesda, Albert W., of Ukiah, Calif., and John R., of Salisbury, Md.; a sister, Irene Seymour of North Dartmouth, Mass.; eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.