Walter T. Skallerup Jr., 66, general counsel of the Navy since 1981 and a lawyer in Washington for the last 40 years, died of cancer July 29 at Georgetown University Hospital.

Mr. Skallerup was in private practice here for eight years before he became the Navy's general counsel. In the 1960s and early 1970s he was a special consultant to the undersecretary of state and deputy assistant secretary for security policy at the Department of Defense.

As general counsel of the Navy, his duties involved supervision of 400 lawyers at naval installations around the world and serving as counsel to the secretary of the Navy.

A resident of McLean, Mr. Skallerup was born in Chicago and raised in Philadelphia. He was a graduate of Swarthmore College. He served in the Navy in the Pacific aboard the aircraft carrier Hornet and the destroyer Cushing during World War II. He was awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star medals.

After the war, Mr. Skallerup graduated from Yale Law School. He came to Washington in 1947 and joined the staff of the general counsel of the Atomic Energy Commission. He was in private practice here from 1953 until he joined the Defense Department in 1962. He remained there until 1968, when he went to work at the State Department. He stayed at State until entering private practice in 1973.

Mr. Skallerup was active in Democratic politics in Northern Virginia. He had been a member of the board of managers of Swarthmore College since 1977.

His first wife, Nancy McGhee Baxter Skallerup, died in 1981, and a son, Andrew Skallerup, died in 1971.

Survivors include his wife, Margaret Perkins Bouhafa Skallerup of McLean; three children by his first marriage, Paula Skallerup Osborn of McLean, Walter T. Skallerup III of New York City, and Nancy Skallerup of Boston; three stepchildren, Catherine Hull Fleming, Edward Luckenbach Hull and Dorothy Baldwin Hull, all of Washington; his mother, Ruth White Skallerup of Washington; a sister, Barbara Weiss of Chevy Chase, and two grandchildren.