NEW YORK -- Romare Bearden, 75, a preeminent American abstract painter and collage artist whose work fashioned stories about the dignity of black people and southern living, died March 12 at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center here after a stroke. He had cancer.

Works by Mr. Bearden, who was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Reagan in June 1987, have fetched prices at Sotheby's up to $56,000. He had one-man shows at the Museum of Modern Art and several other top galleries.

He painted expressionist watercolors but became known for his collages. His other work ranged from political cartoons that were published in 1934 to murals, mosaics, magazine covers, book jackets and quilts.

He was a lover of jazz who did sets and costumes for the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, and murals for the Baltimore and Pittsburgh transit systems.

He also composed songs. Among his works that were eventually recorded was "Seabreeze" by Billy Eckstine.

"I think certainly that he's one of the great masters of the 20th century, especially over the last 40 years," said Lowery Sims, associate curator of 20th century art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Sims said Mr. Bearden's work in collages "raised it to such a fine art it's hard to think of any other artist who is so closely associated with that medium."

Sims, who compared Mr. Bearden's use of form and color to that of Henri Matisse, said his work had an unparalleled ability "to provide us with a heroic depiction of even the most mundane aspects of American black life."

In the book "The Art of Romare Bearden," by John A. Williams, Mr. Bearden was quoted as saying, "I work out of a response and need to redefine the image of man in the terms of the Negro experience I know best."

Ralph Ellison, author of "Invisible Man" and a friend from the 1930s, said that in the artist's work, "restlessness was not frivolous, it was the discovery of the self, of the paintings, of the design."

Mr. Bearden was born in Charlotte, N.C. He used his southern roots, capturing the earth tones and brilliant sun in his paintings.

He grew up in Harlem and Pittsburgh, and later works showed the vibrancy of jazz clubs and street life where he lived. He also spent substantial time in the French West Indies and that too contributed to his painting and collages.

He attended Boston University and New York University, majoring in mathematics. He also studied at the Art Students League in New York. He served in the Army during World War II.

He started drawing in college and cartoons published in the Afro American, a weekly, led to his career in art.

In 1935, he helped found the Harlem Artists Guild. He gained prominence in the 1940s after his work was included in a show by black artists in Washington in 1943.

Mr. Bearden was a member of the American Institute of Arts and Letters and had served on the New York State Council of the Arts.

Survivors include his wife, Nanette, of the home in New York City.

JOHAN PIETER (JOHN) TRIPPLAAR

Retired Dutch Diplomat

Johan Pieter (John) Tripplaar, 66, a retired Dutch diplomat and agriculture department official, died March 12 at the Washington Hospital Center after a heart attack. He lived in Bethesda.

Mr. Tripplaar, who had worked for the Dutch agriculture department, served three tours at his country's embassy in Washington. He was assistant agriculture attache here from 1951 to 1959, and again from 1962 to 1971. During his last tour, from 1974 until retiring in 1986, he was agriculture attache and then agriculture counselor of his embassy.

During his last tour, he also had served as the Dutch delegate to the Food and Agriculture Organization's subcommittee on the disposal of surplus agriculture; the subcommittee meets in Washington. From 1978 to 1980, he was chairman of the subcommittee. The FAO is a United Nations organization.

Mr. Tripplaar was born in The Hague. He received a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in economics from Catholic University here. He began his career in the agriculture department in 1945. In addition to posts in the Netherlands and Washington, Mr. Tripplaar also had served at the Dutch embassy in London.

He was a member of the Dutch Association here.

Survivors include his wife, Nel, of Bethesda; two sons, Frans, of Silver Spring, and John, of Bethesda, and three grandchildren.

HAROLD EUCLID COLLINS

Army Officer, Computer Expert

Harold Euclid Collins, 54, a retired Army colonel who became director of computer facilities at Unified Industries Inc. in Springfield, died of a stroke March 7 at his home in Silver Spring.

Col. Collins was born in Brockton, Mass. He graduated from Hampton University and received a master's degree in business administration from Michigan State University. He also graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

He joined the Army during the Korean war and served in Korea during that time. He also had two tours in Vietnam and had served in West Germany. Col. Collins was transferred to the Washington area in 1967 and was director of computer services at Fort Belvoir when he retired in 1976.

For the next five years, he was director of computer science at Howard University. He had worked for Unified Industries since about 1981.

He was a Mason and a member of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.

Survivors include his wife, Rosalind, and two daughters, Felicia Louise Collins and Alicia Phroso Collins, all of Silver Spring, and his mother, Alice P. Collins of Durham, N.C.

LOUISE TURNER CRAFT AREY

Panama Association Founder

Louise Turner Craft Arey, 67, a founder and past vice president of the Panamanian-North American Association and the wife of a Foreign Service officer, died of cardiac arrest March 6 at her home in Wintergreen, Va. She also maintained a residence in Washington.

Mrs. Arey was born in Hartwell, Ga., and graduated from the University of Georgia.

She accompanied her husband, Will G. Arey Jr., on his State Department assignments to Colombia and Panama before moving to the Washington area in 1963.

In addition to her husband, of Wintergreen and Washington, survivors include two sons, William G. Arey III of Los Angeles and John Gordon Craft Arey of Orlando, Fla.

CHARLES EMANUEL GLEZOS

Food Salesman

Charles Emanuel Glezos, 61, a salesman for Armour & Co. and a lifelong resident of the Washington area, died of cancer March 11 at Georgetown University Hospital.

Mr. Glezos, a resident of Chevy Chase, was born in Washington. He graduated from Roosevelt High School and Benjamin Franklin University. During World War II, he served in the Army in Europe.

About 1950, Mr. Glezos started the Sun Valley Food Co., a produce distributorship. He ran the business until about 1967, when he joined Armour.

Mr. Glezos was a member of the American Legion, the Washington Restaurant Association and the St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral.

Survivors include his wife, Maria Glezos of Chevy Chase; two daughters, Evangeline Hopkins of Chevy Chase and Sophia P. Glezos of Ocean City, Md.; four sisters, Despina Atsalinos, Dorothy Glezos, Phyllis Averinos and Marietta Shetler, all of Wheaton, and three grandchildren.

ROBERT R. ROSE

Certified Public Accountant

Robert R. Rose, 59, a retired certified public accountant who owned and operated his own firm in Wheaton for nearly 30 years before retiring in 1987, died of cancer March 11 at Holy Cross Hospital.

Mr. Rose was born in Michigan and moved here at an early age. He served with the Army in Korea during the war there and received the Purple Heart. He was a graduate of Benjamin Franklin University and worked for Suburban Trust Bank before starting his own business in 1958.

He had been active in the Kiwanis Club in Wheaton and scouting and social service organizations in Washington. He had served on the boards of the Holland Point and Rose Haven civic associations in North Beach, Md., where he had lived since 1967.

Survivors include his mother, Catherine Tayman of Bethesda; a brother, Harvey, of Rockville, and two sisters, Ann Hannaway of Las Vegas and Mary Beard of North Beach.

HELEN TRAVERS BAILEY

Nurse and Secretary

Helen Travers Bailey, 93, a retired government secretary and former nurse, died March 9 at her home in Arlington after a stroke.

Mrs. Bailey was born in Medford, Mass., and grew up in Ireland. About 1925, she went to England, where she studied nursing and worked as a nurse. She returned to this country in 1926, and lived in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts before moving here in 1940.

She was a nurse at Providence Hospital here, then was a secretary with the War Department during World War II. After the war, she was a secretary with the Veterans Administration until retiring in 1964.

Her husband, Leonard Martin Bailey, died in 1945. Survivors include a son, Aubrey William Bailey of Arlington; a half-brother, John Travers of Sligo, Ireland, and a half-sister, Margaret Everard of Dublin.

JOHN P. STACK

Post Office Inspector

John P. Stack, 82, a retired employee of the old U.S. Post Office Department who had lived in the Washington area since 1938, died March 9 at his home in Washington. He had cancer.

Mr. Stack was born in Sand Lake, N.Y., and grew up in Pittsfield, Mass. He was a rural route letter carrier and played semiprofessional basketball near Pittsfield before moving here and joining the Agriculture Department.

After serving with the Army Air Forces in the Southwest Pacific theater during World War II, he returned here and rejoined the Post Office. He was an international mail inspector at the main post office in Washington before retiring in 1955.

Survivors include a brother, Edmund P., of Washington.

HILDA ROSE SINGER HOWDER

Government Statistician

Hilda Rose Singer Howder, 87, a statistician with the Internal Revenue Service and its predecessor agencies for 34 years before retiring in 1961, died of cardiorespiratory arrest March 12 at Sibley Memorial Hospital. She lived in Washington.

She was a member of the Washington Hebrew Congregation and its Prime Timers club and was a past president of the greater Washington area chapter of Hadassah's Kelitah Group. She was a member of the ladies' auxiliary of the Jewish War Veterans.

Mrs. Howder was born in Baltimore and moved here at an early age. She was a graduate of the old Business High School.

She had done volunteer work for the elderly.

Her husband, William Joseph Howder, died in 1979. Survivors include a son, Murray L., of Washington; a daughter, Janet C. Viands of Alexandria; a brother, Samuel Singer of Silver Spring; five grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren.

GLADYS L. KING

1979 Good Neighbor

Gladys L. King, 73, a past president of the Montgomery County Council of Homemakers Clubs who received a Good Neighbor Award from Maryland Gov. Harry Hughes in 1979, died of a stroke March 11 at Montgomery General Hospital. She lived in Laytonsville.

Mrs. King was born near Gaithersburg and graduated from Gaithersburg High School.

She was a member of the Wesley Grove United Methodist Church in Woodfield, Md. She was a member of the Gaithersburg Garden Club and the Laytonsville and Goshen homemakers clubs.

Mrs. King was a past president of the Women's Committee of the Montgomery County Farm Bureau and had served on the Montgomery County Fair Board. She also had been a leader of the Woodfield and Goshen 4-H clubs and enjoyed square dancing.

Survivors include her husband, Harrison C. King of Laytonsville; two sons, John D. King of Gaithersburg and Thomas G. King of Darnestown; a daughter, Augusta Mae Wayne of Laytonsville; a sister, Hazel Allnutt, and a brother, James Allnutt, both of Gaithersburg; and eight grandchildren.

SAMUEL S. GOOD

Federal Housing Official

Samuel S. Good, 83, who worked for the Federal Housing Administration for more than 30 years before retiring in 1966 as its audit branch director, died March 13 at the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington in Rockville. He had cancer.

Mr. Good, who moved here in 1935, was a native of Philadelphia. He was a 1926 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and received two degrees from Benjamin Franklin University here. He joined the government in 1935, and became FHA audit branch director in 1949.

His wife, Leona W., died in 1986.

Survivors include a son, Stephen, of Laguna Beach, Calif.; a daughter, Barbara G. Specter of Albuquerque; two brothers, Allan, of Philadelphia, and Martin, of Maple Shade, N.J.; five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.