James Paul Mills, 78, who had raised thoroughbred racehorses on his farm in Middleburg, Va., since 1950, died of a stroke Sept. 14 at the Winchester Hospital Center in Winchester, Va.

Mr. Mills was born in Radnor, Pa. He graduated from Yale University. From 1932 to 1940, he was an investment banker in New York City. During World War II, he served in the old Army Air Forces in Iceland, attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel.

During the late 1940s, he served on the boards of the old Slick Airways and Allegheny Airlines.

He moved to the Washington area in 1950 and founded Hickory Tree Farm where he bred and trained race horses. He had been the owner of thoroughbred stakes winners Gone West, Believe It and Devil's Bag, who was undefeated in five races in 1983.

Mr. Mills was a past vice president of the National Steeple Chase and Hunt Association and a director of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. He was a member of the Jockey Club, the Virginia Thoroughbred Association and the Virginia Equine Hall of Fame.

He also was a founder of the National Arthritis Foundation.

Survivors include his wife, Alice duPont Mills of Middleburg; two daughters, Mrs. William Abel-Smith of Middleburg and Mrs. James Wyeth of Chadds Ford, Pa.; one son, James Paul Mills Jr. of Middleburg; one sister, Mrs. Edward B. Smith of Gladwyne, Pa., and two grandchildren.

LOUIS PETERSEN,

67, a retired Navy chief petty officer and pilot who also had been a flight inspector for the Federal Aviation Administration and a pilot for the Smithsonian Institution, died Sept. 14 at his home in Alexandria after a heart attack.

Mr. Petersen was born in Norge, Va. He attended the University of Hawaii. He entered the Navy before World War II and was an airplane mechanic at Pearl Harbor when it was attacked by Japan on Dec. 7, 1941.

During World War II, he was a noncommissioned officer and pilot in the Pacific, flying PBY aircraft. He retired from active duty in 1960.

He then joined the FAA, where he worked until 1975. After that, he worked for the Smithsonian Institution until earlier this year.

Between September 1986 and July 1987, he flew an old PBY in a project reenacting the Navy's famed first transatlantic flight.

Mr. Petersen was a member of Bethany Lutheran Church in Alexandria, the Silver Eagles, the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, the Fleet Reserve and the Seaplane Pilots Association.

Survivors include his wife, Elaine Humphrey Petersen of Alexandria; one son, Louis M., of Sterling Park; two daughters, Elain (Chipper) Whalan of Springfield and Wanda Lynn Price Petersen of Lake Ridge, Va.; two brothers, Jack, of Greensboro, N.C., and Herbert, of Petersburg, Va., and four grandchildren.

GEORGE R. SALB JR.,

66, a retired division chief with the Naval Investigative Service who had been active in Catholic organizations, died Sept. 14 at Suburban Hospital after a heart attack. He lived in Bethesda.

Mr. Salb worked for the service for more than 20 years before retiring in 1971 as head of its criminal investigation divison. Before joining the Navy Department, he had worked for the old Bureau of Internal Revenue and the Central Intelligence Agency.

He was a member of St. Jane de Chantal Catholic Church in Bethesda, where he had been a Catholic Youth Organization baseball and basketball coach. He was a third-degree member of the Knights of Columbus.

Mr. Salb was a native of Washington. He was a graduate of St. John's College High School and the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service.

Survivors include his wife of 40 years, Ruth A. Salb of Bethesda; two sons, F. Michael Salb of Springfield and John Salb of Gaithersburg; four daughters, Katharine Dievendorf of Columbia, S.C., Clare Salb of Bethesda, Elizabeth Kappes of Mount Airy, Md., and Marie Sterling of Kensington; one brother, Lewis Salb of Pittsburg, Calif.; one sister, Margaret M. Salb of Chevy Chase, and four grandchildren.

THEODORE E. KING,

27, a Washington native who worked for the Pacific Stock Exchange in Los Angeles, died of cancer Sept. 14 at the Washington Hospital Center.

Mr. King graduated from McKinley High School in 1978. During his high school years he had summer internships at WTOP-TV and WHUR radio and he also was an usher and office worker at the National Theatre.

After high school he moved to Los Angeles and attended Los Angeles City College. In 1981, he went to work as a bookkeeper for Merrill Lynch in Los Angeles and in 1985 he went to work at the Pacific Stock Exchange as a clearing clerk for stocks and bonds.

He retired in 1986 for reasons of health and in May of this year he returned to Washington for medical treatment.

Mr. King was a member of St. Paul's Baptist Church in Washington. He also had been a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout.

Survivors include his wife, Katherine King, and three sons, Caleb, Jonathan and Joshua King, all of Los Angeles, and his parents, Wesley J. King Sr. and Shirley L. King, one grandmother, Esther E. King, one sister, Janet King Lipscomb, and one brother, Wesley J. King Jr., all of Washington.

M. CONNER AHRENS,

65, a retired assistant director of the Agricultural Engineering Research Division at the Department of Agriculture, died Sept. 14 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He had a brain tumor.

Mr. Ahrens, a resident of Silver Spring, was born in Everson, Wash. He graduated from Washington State University and received a master's degree there in agricultural engineering. During World War II he served in the Army Corps of Engineers in Europe.

In 1949, Mr. Ahrens joined the Agricultural Research Service in Pullman, Wash. He transferred here in 1959 and retired in 1979 on a disability.

He was a member of the Washington Area Group for the Hard of Hearing, the Silver Spring Presbyterian Church and the American Society of Agricultural Engineers.

Survivors include his wife, Billie Ahrens of Silver Spring; three sons, Paul of Boulder, Colo., Miles of Hampden, Conn., and Mark of Silver Spring; one sister, Pat Larson of Seattle; two brothers, Spencer Ahrens of Everson and Keith Ahrens in Frankfurt and four grandchildren.

HARRIETTE H. ESCH,

94, a retired economist and editor with the Federal Trade Commission, died of congestive heart failure Sept. 14 at the Potomac Valley Nursing Center in Rockville.

Mrs. Esch was born in Milwaukee. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin and received a master's degree in economics from American University. She moved to the Washington area in 1913.

She joined the FTC about 1935 and retired in 1965. During some of those years, she also was manager of the federal credit union at the FTC.

She was a member of the Divine Science Church of the Healing Christ in Washington.

Her husband, Fred Esch Jr., died in 1947. Survivors include two daughters, Marion E. Potter and Jane Sweeney, both of Chevy Chase; two sons, Fred Esch Jr. of Silver Spring and Robin Esch of Concord, Mass.; eight grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

JOSEPH RAYMOND TYRRELL JR.,

54, a lawyer in Prince George's County where he had practiced criminal law for the past 25 years, died Sept. 5 at the Greater Laurel-Beltsville Hospital after a heart attack. He lived in Laurel.

Mr. Tyrrell was born in Baltimore. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he also earned a law degree. He received a master's degree in chemistry from Nova University in Florida and had studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore.

During the late 1950s, he was a pharmaceutical representative with the old Winthrop Laboratories in Baltimore. He moved to the Washington area about 1962 and began the private law practice he maintained until his death.

Mr. Tyrrell also drove hydroplanes and other high-speed boats in racing competition and had done some boat and stunt scenes for the "Miami Vice" television series.

He had been a member of the 100 MPH Club, a hydroplane racing organization, the College Park Volunteer Fire Department and the Laurel Kiwanis Club, where he was a past president.

His marriage to the former Joan Frye Sensabaugh ended in divorce.

Survivors include three daughters, Myra L. Zareva of Tampa, Fla., Elizabeth T. Ruckert of St. Petersburg Beach, Fla., and Theresa G. Tyrrell of Laurel, and three grandchildren.