Marquis W. Childs, 87, the retired nationally syndicated political columnist and former Washington bureau chief of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who, in 1970, was awarded the first Pulitzer Prize for commentary, died June 30 at a hospital in San Francisco. He had a heart ailment.

Mr. Childs began his journalism career in 1923 with the old United Press, then joined the Post-Dispatch in St. Louis in 1926. In 1934, he transferred to the paper's Washington bureau, where he was bureau chief from 1962 to 1969. He then was a contributing editor until retiring in 1974. From the mid-1940s to mid-1970s, he also wrote an immensely popular syndicated column dealing with politics and international relations.

He also wrote three novels and about a dozen books of nonfiction. Their subjects ranged from American history and current events to memoirs and a book on the Mississippi River. His best-known works were probably a series of books he wrote on Sweden, especially his highly acclaimed 1936 bestseller published by Yale University Press, "Sweden: The Middle Way."

Critics hailed the book for reporting an important and little-known social experiment to the general reader. In a time of depression and despair, it reported Sweden's new social democracy as a kind of humane and workable "middle way" between capitalism on one hand and communism and fascism on the other.

But to the general public, he was known primarily as an informed, decidedly rational, and even entertaining, columnist who wrote about affairs of state and the world's high and mighty personalities. Among other journalists and the people he wrote about, he gained an enviable reputation for his intelligence and integrity.

Although the role of the columnist is largely to interpret the news, Mr. Childs never entirely gave up as a "reporter." And he had his share of "scoops" to prove it.

At the 1948 Democratic convention, where a large group of delegates were attempting to "draft" war hero Dwight D. Eisenhower for president, Mr. Childs punctured their balloon with an inverview with the five-star Army general. He quoted Eisenhower as saying that he was not a "liberal" and had little in common with the Democratic Party. That put something of a damper on the "draft."

In 1956, during the Suez crisis, Mr. Childs gained exclusive interviews with Britain's prime minister, Anthony Eden, and chancellor of the exchequer, Harold Macmillan. His next dispatches correctly predicted Eden's fall.

In 1973, he gained a widely publicized interview with Chinese Prime Minister Chou En-lai. He then carried a private message from the Chinese leader to Henry Kissinger, a prime architect of the Nixon administration's new China policy.

Also in 1973, he became the first journalist to report the initialing of a cease-fire agreement between the United States and North Vietnam.

He gained another kind of fame in the 1970s when it was revealed that his name was included on the infamous "enemies list" made by the Nixon White House of people regarded as hostile to the president.

Though he never carried the title of foreign correspondent, his work often carried a foreign dateline. In addition to books and articles on Sweden, he also wrote about the Spanish Civil War, covering the fascist seige of Madrid and Valencia. Later in the 1930s, he wrote articles from Mexico about the oil industry and Mexican society. He also wrote from the European and Mediterranean theater battlefields of World War II.

Not all his overseas work ended in triumph, however. He once told about a perplexing interview, or "non-interview," he had at the Vatican with Pope Pius XII. It seems the pontiff did not realize Mr. Childs wanted an interview, or even was a journalist, but was under the assumption he was a man who wanted some rosary beads blessed.

In addition to his books, column and work for the Post-Dispatch, he also contributed special articles and book reviews to many other publications, including The Washington Post, where his column ran for many years. He had contributed to such magazines as the Saturday Evening Post, the New Republic, Reader's Digest and the Yale Review.

In addition to his Pulitzer, which was awarded for "distinguished commentary during 1969," he was a recipient of a 1945 Sigma Delta Chi award for the best Washington correspondence and a 1951 University of Missouri award for distinguished journalism. He was a past president of Gridiron Club and the Overseas Writers Club, and a member of the Washington Press, Cosmos and Metropolitan clubs here.

Marquis William "Mark" Childs was born March 17, 1903, in the Mississippi River town of Clinton, Iowa. Though his father was a lawyer and nearly all his other relatives were farmers, he always said that he never doubted what he wanted to be. He said that since the age of 13 his only goal was to be a newspaper reporter.

A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, he received a master's degree in English at the University of Iowa, where he also taught English composition. After working for the United Press in the Midwest and in New York, he joined the Post-Dispatch as a national feature writer. He wrote about everything and anything -- rural murders; the life of Louisiana's colorful governor and senator, Huey Long (D); and such oddities as a baby "born with a tail."

Mr. Childs left the Post-Dispatch in 1944, devoting the next 10 years to writing his syndicated column for the United Features Syndicate. He returned to the paper in 1954.

Upon learning of his death, Pulitzer Publishing Co. Chairman Joseph Pulitzer Jr. said that "unrestrained curiosity regarding all levels of human experience propelled his career." Pulitzer added, "He gloried in quick laughter at a funny story involving some political or social oddity or human weakness."

Washington Post Board Chairman Katharine Graham remembered Mr. Childs as "the conscience of decency. He was modest, humorous and irreverant, except where his values were concerned, where he was tough and courageous in his beliefs."

Others remembered some of Mr. Childs tried-and-true techniques for "getting the story." One of these was the casual telelphone call. An urbane and witty man, he would telephone a source, ostensibly to relay entertaining gossip he had just learned. The source would then almost always feel almost honor-bound to answer Mr. Childs's questions about the story of the day.

A former resident of Washington and Bethesda, he lived in San Francisco.

His first wife, the former Lu Prentiss, whom he married in 1926, died in 1968. Survivors include his wife, the former Jane Neylan McBaine, whom he married in 1969 and who lives in San Francisco; and a son by his first marriage.

JOHN J. MAGRUDER SR.

P.G. Police Official

John Joseph Magruder Sr., 63, who served with the Prince George's County police for 27 years before retiring in 1979 as an assistant chief, died June 27 at a hospital in Skowhegan, Maine, after a heart attack. He was stricken at his summer home in Skowhegan.

He was a charter member of Mother Seton Council No. 5381 of the Knights of Columbus in Seabrook. He served as grand knight from 1983 to 1984. He was state deputy of the Maryland state council of the Knights of Columbus from 1986 to 1987.

Mr. Magruder, who lived in Seabrook, was a native of Washington. He attended Gonzaga College High School, where he played football and was elected to the school's hall of fame, and graduated from American University. He also studied law enforcement at the FBI Academy at Quantico. He was a Navy veteran of World War II.

Survivors include his wife, Gailian, of Seabrook; three sons, Jack Jr., of Bowie, Stephen, of Mercer, Maine, and Michael, of Ellicott City; two daughters, Catherine Martin of Birmingham and Pam Magruder of Greenbelt; and six grandchildren.

HAROLD W. "HAP" WARD

UMW Official

Harold W. "Hap" Ward, 84, a retired public relations director of the United Mine Workers Welfare and Retirement Fund and a former Associated Press labor correspondent, died of cancer June 28 at his home in Hanover, Pa.

Mr. Ward, a former resident of Silver Spring, was born in Nanticoke, Pa. He graduated from Girard College in Philadelphia. He was a reporter with the Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) Record before joining the AP in Harrisburg, Pa., in 1937.

In 1942, Mr. Ward transferred to the AP's Washington bureau. He was the news agency's national labor correspondent when he resigned in 1951 to become public relations director of the UMW Welfare and Retirement Fund. He retired from that position in 1974 and moved to Hanover shortly thereafter.

Mr. Ward was a member of the Public Relations Society of America, the National Press Club and various historical societies.

Survivors include his wife, Betty Mandeville Ward of Hanover; two children, Edwin M. Ward of Severna Park and Constance M. Woolard of Silver Spring; and three grandchildren.

MERLIN O. CRABTREE

Carpenter

Merlin O. Crabtree, 82, a carpenter with Burton Builders of Potomac from 1961 until he retired in 1978, died of cancer June 28 at the Wilson Health Care Center in Gaithersburg.

Mr. Crabtree, a resident of Kensington, was born in Kiefer in Allegany County, Md. He worked in a tannery in nearby Paw Paw, W.Va., before moving to the Washington area in 1961.

He attended the Hughes Memorial United Methodist Church in Kensington.

Survivors include his wife, Evelyn Lancaster Crabtree of Kensington; two children, Randall P. Crabtree of Germantown and Carol C. Wyatt of Knoxville, Tenn.; two brothers, Walter Crabtree of Oldtown, Md., and Willard Crabtree of Paw Paw; a sister, Freda Robertson of Cumberland, Md.; two grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

BAMAH "BEA" FERRARA

Volunteer Activist

Bamah "Bea" Ferrara, 76, an area resident since the early 1930s who was active in spiritual and volunteer groups, died of cardiac arrest June 27 at Holy Cross Hospital. She lived in Silver Spring.

Mrs. Ferrara had done award-winning volunteer work with the Northeast Mission and the American Red Cross. She also had done volunteer work for the Prison Project and the Community for Creative Non-Violence.

She had belonged to such spiritual groups as the Meditation Group for the New Age, the Maryland Association for Research and Enlightenment and the Theosophical Society of Washington.

Mrs. Ferrara was a native of Georgia. In the mid- and late 1930s, she had been a photo retoucher and office manager with several Washington photo studios.

Her husband of 37 years, Alex Ferrara, died in 1977. Survivors include a daughter, Rita Day of Silver Spring, and a grandchild.

ROY LEE WYNKOOP

Social Security Official

Roy Lee Wynkoop, 80, a retired official of the Social Security Administration and a lifelong resident of the Washington area, died of heart ailments June 29 at his home in Alexandria.

Mr. Wynkoop was born in Washington. He graduated from McKinley Technical High School and attended Southeastern University.

He began his career with the Social Security Administration in 1936, and was executive officer of the agency when he retired in 1967. He continued as a consultant for about four years after that.

Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Mary Louise Wynkoop of Alexandria; a daughter, Mary Gayle Adams of Waynesboro, Pa.; and six grandchildren.

RHODA SIMMONS

Church Activist

Rhoda Belle McCartney Simmons, 88, a longtime area resident who was active in church groups, died of cancer June 29 at her home in Washington.

She was a member of Grace Brethren Church in Lanham, where she was an ordained deaconess and organist and choir director. She also had taught ladies Bible classes at the church.

Mrs. Simmons was a graduate of Lockhaven State Teachers College in her native Pennsylvania, where she also taught junior high school. She moved here in 1924. She lived in New York from the 1930s until returning here in 1941. She had studied the pipe organ both here and in New York.

Her husband, Francis Estol Simmons, died in 1967. Survivors include two daughters, Patricia Miller of Forestville and Barbara MacFarlane of Washington; a brother, Robert McCartney of Everett, Pa.; two sisters, Sara Henderson of Waldorf and Lucille Thibodeau of Mount Dora, Fla.; two grandchildren; and three great-grandsons.

RUSSELL B. McKENNAN SR.

Forest Service Official

Russell B. McKennan Sr., 87, who worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 40 years before retiring in 1965 as its general inspector, died June 28 in Alexandria at the Washington House retirement and nursing center, where he had lived since 1985.

Mr. McKennan, a former Arlington resident, was a native of Nebraska and a graduate of Iowa State University. He began his Forest Service career as a ranger in Ohio and Michigan. He became a supervisor in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

In 1945, he became supervisor of the Pike National Forest near Colorado Springs, and later was regional personnel supervisor in Denver. He transferred to Washington in 1957 as general inspector.

Mr. McKennan was a member of St. Michael's Episcopal Church in Arlington, where he was an usher and member of its senior citizens group. He also was a member of the Society of American Foresters and the Masons.

His wife, Katherine, died in 1984. Survivors include a son, Russell Jr., of Falls Church; a daughter, Mary Druding of Waterville, Maine; and three grandchildren.

JOHN T. MURPHY SR.

Carpenter

John T. Murphy Sr., 64, a past president of Carpenters Local Union No. 1590, of which he was a member for 40 years, died of pneumonia June 30 at Leland Memorial Hospital. He had a stroke.

Mr. Murphy, a resident of College Park, was born in Washington. He graduated from Gonzaga College High School. During World War II, he served in the Navy in Europe.

As a carpenter, he worked for various building contractors in the Washington area until retired in 1985. He was a member of the College Park Moose Club, the American Legion, the Knights of Columbus and Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in College Park.

Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth B. Murphy of College Park; three children, Kevin C. Murphy Sr. and Karen Creasey, both of College Park, and Cecile Jessup of Laurel; a sister, Catherine Paddock of Chespeake Beach, Md.; and eight grandchildren. Another son, John T. Murphy Jr., died in 1968.