Thomas C. Fichter, 51, a senior vice president and chief financial officer at the American Newspaper Publishers Association, died of an aneurysm Sept. 26 at Fair Oaks Hospital in Fairfax. He lived in Oakton.

Mr. Fichter joined the ANPA as an accountant in New York City in 1961. He moved to the Washington area when its headquarters was transferred to Reston in 1972. He was vice president for finance at that time and later became senior vice president.

In the course of his career, ANPA membership grew from 846 newspapers in 1961 to about 1,400 newspapers today. As senior vice president, Mr. Fichter was responsible for all aspects of internal administration, including an $18 million annual budget, a staff of about 160 people and the library and information services. In addition, he was treasurer of the ANPA Foundation and president of the ANPA Credit Bureau.

His most visible task, however, was organizing the association's annual conventions, which attract 2,000 to 2,500 publishers and executives from the highest reaches of the newspaper world. These occasions are not only a chance for the leaders of the industry to discuss matters of mutual interest, but a forum highly valued by political leaders as an opportunity to state their policy aims to opinion leaders. Mr. Fichter was highly regarded by association members and colleagues for the courtesy, tact and skill with which he brought these groups together.

At the 1989 convention in Chicago, for example, the list of speakers included President and Mrs. Bush, Vice President Quayle and Gen. Colin Powell, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. At the 1990 convention, held in Los Angeles, the speakers included President Carlos Salinas de Gortari of Mexico, House Speaker Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.), Defense Secretary Richard B. Cheney and Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles.

Mr. Fichter was born in New York City. He graduated from Pace University and attended New York University. After joining the ANPA as an accountant, he served as assistant comptroller, credit manager and comptroller before becoming a vice president.

Survivors include his wife, Ronnie Fichter of Oakton; two children, Erika Fichter of San Diego and Kristian Fichter of Oakton; his father, Robert Fichter of Orangeburg, N.Y.; and two sisters, Barbara Galdi of Orangeburg and Lorraine Gilbride of Harrington Park, N.J.