William Lanxner, 59, an education staff representative of the AFL-CIO who earlier had been headmaster of the Maret School in Washington, died of cancer May 4 at Georgetown University Hospital.

Since 1978 Mr. Lanxner had been with the AFL-CIO, where he was developing curricula for public schools on the history of the labor movement. He had been headmaster at Maret from 1969 to 1971, when he left to become headmaster at Lake Ridge Academy in North Ridgefield, Ohio. He returned to Washington in 1974 to become a field representative at the Asian-American Free Labor Institute here.

A resident of Silver Spring, Mr. Lanxner was born in New York City and graduated from the University of Michigan. He took a master's degree in English literature from Columbia University. He served in the Army in the Pacific during World War II.

Before he became headmaster at Maret, Mr. Lanxner was a teacher or administrator at private schools in New York, Vermont and Massachusetts, and in the late 1950s had done public relations work in New York City.

A violinist, he was a member of the Montgomery County Symphony Orchestra. He was also a member of Rock Creek Golf Club.

His marriage to Jean L. Lanxner ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, Grace I. Lanxner of Silver Spring; five daughters by his first marriage, Kate Elizabeth Lanxner of Paris, Rebecca Latimer Nebesar of Canaan, N.Y., Sarah Anne Lanxner of Silver Spring, Emily Lyman Lanxner of Norwich, Vt., and Wendy Welles Lanxner of Northampton, Mass.; two sons by his first marriage, David Charles, and William A., both of Silver Spring; one brother, Joel M. Lanxner of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., one sister, Beatrice Golden of Hollywood, Fla., and four grandchildren.