Lord Soames, 66, a British soldier, politician and diplomat who had served as parliamentary private secretary to his father-in-law, Sir Winston Churchill, and held office under five subsequent Tory prime ministers, died yesterday at his home in Hampshire. He had undergone surgery for an abdominal obstruction and had a heart ailment.

As governor of Southern Rhodesia from 1979 to 1980, he helped guide the former British African colony from 14 years of rule by the white supremacist regime of Ian Smith and seven years of civil war, to a democratic, black majority rule. Upon his return home he received a hero's welcome and a special tribute from Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher for helping "to bring war to peace, violence to the ballot box, and fear to a spirit of conciliation."

As Rhodesia governor, Lord Soames wielded sweeping powers, with rival guerrilla and white-led armies answerable to him through a British military officer. Diplomats said at the time his efforts to steer Rhodesia through a delicate cease-fire to new elections and independence as Zimbabwe were among the most demanding tasks in Britain's long process of decolonization.

Much of his earlier career had been devoted to the equally vexing problems facing Britain in her attempts to enter the European Economic Community, or Common Market. He was a deputy to Edward Heath, who was later a prime minister, in the Brussels talks in 1961 and 1962 on Britain's application to the EEC. The application was vetoed in 1963 by French President Charles de Gaulle.

From 1968 to 1972, he served as ambassador to France, playing a pivotal role in ironing out the differences between Britain and France concerning British entry into "Europe." He was appointed to that post by Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson and continued to serve under Heath.

Labor Foreign Secretary George Brown had recommended Lord Soames' appointment as ambassador, saying that the embassy in Paris needed "a man with imagination, a knowledge and feel of France, with a particular social flair and with some money."

Lord Soames certainly had all that. He was born Arthur Christopher John Soames at Penn, Buckinghamshire. He was educated at Eton and the Royal Military College at Sandhurst, Britain's "West Point," and commissioned a second lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards in 1939.

During World War II, he was a liaison officer with Free French forces and was wounded near El Alamein. After his recovery, he was an intelligence officer in the Mediterranean theater. And after the war, he was an assistant military attache at the Paris embassy, where he met Churchill's youngest daughter, Mary Spencer Churchill. They married in 1947. He left the Army later that year.

Lord Soames was elected as a Conservative to the House of Commons in 1950, and served as parliamentary private secretary to Prime Minister Churchill from 1952 to 1955. During a three-week period in 1953, while Churchill recovered from a stroke, Lord Soames was said to have exercised great leadership.

In 1955, he was appointed parliamentary undersecretary of state for Air. He was parliamentary and financial secretary to the Admiralty from 1957 to 1958. He was then named to the Privy Council and spent the next two years as secretary of state for war. In July 1960, he was elevated to full cabinet rank as minister of agriculture. He entered private industry after his defeat in the 1966 general election and did not return to the public arena until becoming ambassador to France.

In 1972, he was knighted and named to the 13-member EEC Commission, becoming its vice president for external relations. In that post, he played an important part in negotiations on mutual tariff reduction. He left the commission in 1976, and two years later was created a life-peer, taking the title of Baron Soames of Fletching in the County of East Sussex.

He became Tory spokesman in the House of Lords for foreign and Commonwealth affairs. After the 1979 Tory victory, the new Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher named him leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council, a post of cabinet rank with responsibility for the Civil Service. He was one of those dropped from the government in 1981, when Thatcher sought officials more in agreement with her economic policies.

Lord Soames, who had a reputation as a leading diplomatic troubleshooter, enjoyed the broad sweep of history and gave the air of a blunt and forceful man who would have been at home as a proconsul in earlier empires. He was described by colleages as "no reader" and a man who enjoyed "country sports and serious eating." The late Ian Macleod, who had served in government with Lord Soames, said of him: "Behind that incredibly bluff exterior lies an incredibly bluff interior."

Survivors include his wife and their five children.

PHILIP A WOLCOTT JR.,

62, a retired United States Information Agency official who had served in Washington, Beirut, Belgrade, Stockholm and Abu Dhabi and who was a former newspaper writer, editor and photographer, died of cancer and an embolism Sept. 13 at his home in Bend, Ore.

Mr. Wolcott was born in Ashland, Ore. He graduated from the University of Oregon, where he also earned a master's degree in journalism. During World War II he served in an Army mountain unit in Italy.

Before moving to the Washington area in 1965, he was a writer and photographer with the Eugene Register-Guard in Oregon, and he won an Associated Press grand prize for photographs of an airlift at a Korean orphanage in 1962. For two years after moving to the Washington area he was a night picture editor at The Washington Post while working at USIA.

Overseas assignments included being press secretary at the U.S. Embassy in Stockholm, an editor in Beirut, public information officer in Belgrade and secretary for information and public affairs in Abu Dhabi.

Mr. Wolcott was chief of political and social processes at USIA's bureau of programs in Washington when he retired in 1985. He was awarded the agency's career achievement award upon retirement.

A former resident of Bethesda, Arlington and Washington, Mr. Wolcott moved to Bend after he retired.

Survivors include his wife, Betty J. Wolcott of Bend, and two sons, Steven Kelly Wolcott of La Selva Beach, Calif., and Philip A. Wolcott of Alexandria.

JESSE PRICE MOOREFIELD,

74, a retired Army colonel who also had taught high school and worked for the Maryland Health Department, died of cancer Sept. 9 at Malcolm Grow Medical Center at Andrews Air Force Base. He lived in Camp Springs.

He entered the Army in 1938 and was an infantry officer with the 1st Army in Europe during World War II. His later assignments took him to Okinawa, where he was a finance officer; to West Germany, where he commanded an armored regiment, and to South Korea, where he was a military adviser. Before retiring from active duty in 1967, he was a senior adviser with the Maryland National Guard.

His decorations included the Silver Star and Bronze Star and three awards of the Purple Heart.

After leaving the Army, Col. Moorefield became a program manager with Sanders Associates, a Northern Virginia engineering concern. He then taught science at Suitland High School, and in the early 1970s he was a counselor in the substance abuse program of the Maryland Health Department.

He was a Mason and member of the Retired Officers Association.

Col. Moorefield, who had lived in the Washington area since 1964, was a native of Greensboro, N.C. He was a graduate of North Carolina State University and earned a master's degree in business administration at Stanford University and a master's degree in agriculture at the University of Maryland.

Survivors include his wife, Virginia Rose, of Camp Springs; one daughter, Helen J. Jacobsen of Great Barrington, Mass.; four sons, Kenneth P., of Caracas, Venezuela, Robert D., of St. Augustine, Fla., and Steven D. and Bruce D., both of Camp Springs; one sister, Mabel Williams of Greensboro, and five grandchildren.

SAM FLEISCHMAN,

84, a retired New York pharmacist who had lived in the Washington area since 1972, died of an aneurysm Sept. 13 at Georgetown University Hospital.

Mr. Fleischman, who was a resident of Washington, was born in Latvia. He came to the United States as a child and grew up in Newark. He graduated from the New Jersey College of Pharmacy, a part of Rutgers University.

He opened his own drugstore in East Orange, N.J., in the early 1930s. He moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1937 and opened another store. He retired and moved to the Washington area 15 years ago.

He was a member of the Adas Israel Men's Club.

Survivors include his wife of 50 years, Sonia (Sunny) Fleischman of Washington; two sons, Howard Fleischman of Rockville and Edward Fleischman of Washington, and three grandchildren.

SARAH JANE COSTELLO,

93, a longtime Washington area resident, and a member of St. Francis Episcopal Church in Potomac and its women's organization, died of pneumonia Sept. 16 at Georgetown University Hospital. She lived in Bethesda.

Mrs. Costello was born in Stroudsburg, Pa. In 1932, she moved to the Washington area with her husband, William C. Costello, who went to work for the old Reconstruction Finance Corp. They moved to Houston in 1953. He died in 1970, and she returned to this area in 1976.

She was a member of Chapter J of the PEO Sisterhood.

Survivors include one daughter, Jane Costello Maisch of Bethesda; one grandson and three great-granddaughters.