Mary Parker Porter, 74, who served on the D.C. school board from 1952 to 1955, died of cancer Dec. 27 at George Washington University Hospital. She lived in Washington.

Mrs. Porter served on the board during a time of racial tension and national school desegregation. When appointed to the board by the District Court, she said she had nothing to say about matters facing the board, but began an intense study of them.

In 1955, her term ended and she was not reappointed. An editorial in The Washington Post said that it felt "real regret" that she "was not accorded another term; her service on the board was thoughtful and conscientious and deserves the warm thanks of the community."

Mrs. Porter, who had lived in the Washington area since World War II, was born in Oklahoma. Before settling here, she had lived in Cleveland, Houston, and Yonkers, N.Y.

She graduated from the College of William and Mary with an English degree. During the 1940s and early 1950s, she had been an interior decorator with the Hecht Co. and Lord & Taylor department stores.

Mrs. Porter had lectured on interior decorating at George Washington University and Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

She was a past president of the Barney settlement house here and had served on the D.C. Child Welfare Board. She had been a member of St. John's Episcopal Church at Lafayette Square and the Woman's National Democratic Club.

Her husband, Horace D. Porter, died in 1989. Survivors include two stepsons, Donald E., of Springfield, and Richard, of Paxton, Mass.