Margaret P. Leaf, 79, a retired building executive and the widow of Munro Leaf, the author of "The Story of Ferdinand the Bull" and other children's books, died of cancer Feb. 24 at the Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville.

Mrs. Leaf was present for the writing of "Ferdinand," which tells about a Spanish bull that couldn't be persuaded to fight. Her husband always said he turned it out in 40 minutes. In 1986, she published a children's book of her own, "Eyes of the Dragon."

Apart from her career in building, Mrs. Leaf spent much of her life on matters concerning children. In the 1930s she was a manager and buyer of children's books for Brentano's bookstores in New York City.

In the 1940s, while living in Greenwich, Conn., she worked to improve state programs for orphans and in the 1950s, while living in Andover, Mass., she was active in efforts to place certain disadvantaged children in mainstream school programs. She also was a volunteer in programs for Hungarian refugees.

In the 1960s Mrs. Leaf and her husband made three trips abroad to discuss children's books as part of the State Department's cultural exchange program. Countries they visited included the Soviet Union, Japan and India. As "Ferdinand" approached its 50th birthday in 1986, Mrs. Leaf frequently lectured about the book, especially to children.

The book was illustrated by Robert Lawson and made into a cartoon by Walt Disney. To date it has been translated into 61 languages and has sold more than 2.5 million copies. When it appeared in 1936, some regarded it as a satirical attack on aggression. Others said it was a takeoff on communism and still others said it poked fun at fascism. What with all the uproar it knocked "Gone With the Wind" out of first place on the best-seller lists.

Mrs. Leaf said politics was the farthest thing from her husband's mind when he wrote "Ferdinand." She said he wanted to do something his friend Lawson could illustrate and picked a bull because it was different than the cats, dogs, horses and bunnies that populate most children's books.

As for the controversy, Mrs. Leaf said her husband thought it was "silly." But she used to tell children that the reason Ferdinand didn't fight was that he didn't want to. "When he got to the bull ring he was true to himself. It's very important when you grow up to be true to yourself."

A resident of Garrett Park, Mrs. Leaf was born in East Orange, N.J. She grew up in Washington and graduated from McKinley Technical High School. As a young woman she lived in the New York area. In the 1950s and early 1960s she lived in Massachusetts.

There she joined a home-building firm called Tech-Built, of which she became a vice president. When she returned to the Washington area in the mid-1960s, she opened a local office for the company. In the early 1970s she worked briefly for another business in the same field and then went back to Tech-Built. She retired in the early 1980s.

In private life Mrs. Leaf was a potter.

Her husband died in 1976. Survivors include two children, Andrew M. Leaf of Rockville Centre, N.Y., and James G. Leaf of Marblehead, Mass., and four grandchildren.


Decorated Bomber Pilot

Edgar Waldron Moody, 67, a retired Air Force colonel who won the Distinguished Flying Cross and later became an official of the U.S. Postal Service, died Feb. 25 of cancer at his home in Washington.

Col. Moody was born in Macon, Ga. He graduated from the University of Omaha and the Air Force Institute of Technology. He joined the Army Air Corps in the late 1930s.

During World War II, he flew the B17 bomber on missions in Europe and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. He transferred to the Air Force when it was organized in 1947.

He had assignments in West Germany during the 1950s and in France during the 1960s. He was transferred to the Washington area about 1965. He retired in 1968 from the Office of the Chief of Logistics Plans.

Col. Moody joined the postal service in the early 1970s and was general manager of the operating services division when he retired in 1985.

He was a founding member of the Society of Logistics Engineers and a member of the Andrews Air Force Base Flying Club. He was a past treasurer of the Mineralogical Society of the District of Columbia and he belonged to the Sierra Club and the Audubon Society.

Survivors include his wife, Mair E. Moody of Washington; three sons, David Moody of Savannah, Ga., Michael Moody of Carlton, Ga., and Charles Moody of Milledgeville, Ga.; one brother, Paul Moody of Eastman, Ga.; one sister, Marguerite Duffell of Beaufort, S.C., and four grandchildren.


Liquor Store Owner

Henry Weiner, 70, the retired owner of Mayfair Liquors and a founder of the Thrifty Liquor Association, died Feb. 25 at Sibley Memorial Hospital of an aneurysm. He lived in Washington.

Mr. Weiner was born in Philadelphia. He moved to the Washington area during the early 1940s. During World War II, he served in the Army in the Pacific. After the war, he opened Mayfair, which he operated until he retired in 1981.

He was a member of the Agudath Achem Congregation and had served on its building committee.

Survivors include his wife, Anne Weiner of Washington; two daughters, Judith Freid of Bethesda and Barbara Miller of Rockville, and three grandchildren.