Joseph Cushing, 78, a retired Army colonel who had spent much of his career in the Corps of Engineers and who later was a civilian Army employe, died Jan. 30 at the Veterans Administration Hospital. He had Parkinson's disease.

Col. Cushing was born in Lodz, Poland, and came to this country at an early age. He grew up in New York City and attended the City College of New York.

He was an officer in a New York National Guard unit when it was called to active duty in 1940. He served in Europe after World War II, and earned the Bronze Star while serving in Korea during the war there.

After retiring from active duty in 1960, he worked first for the Army Combat Development Command at Fort Belvoir and then with the Air-Lands Program Office at Fort Monroe, Va. He retired a second time in 1978.

A resident of Alexandria, Col. Cushing had lived in the Washington area since 1953.

His first wife, the former Beatrice Jaffe, died in 1946.

Survivors include his wife, Paula May Cushing of Alexandria, and their four children, Richard J., of Lakewood, Colo., Joan D. Cushing of Menomonie, Wis., Patricia C. Banta of Cherry Hill, N.J., and Paula E. Cushing of Blacksburg, Va.; two daughters by his first marriage, Laurie Blanton of Dale City, and Barbara Weinert of Boise, Idaho; nine grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.