Ann Devroy, 49, a White House correspondent for The Washington Post whose passion for the inner workings of the national government and sure-handed ability to explain the interplay of politics and policy made her one of the most effective journalists of her day, died of cancer Oct. 23 at her home in Washington.

The White House is journalism's most glamorous assignment. It also presents a paradox: Although it is one of the world's most recognizable symbols of democratic government, it also is a keeper of secrets, and it deploys vast resources to influence the way its actions are perceived by the public.

Of the hundreds of reporters assigned to the White House, Ms. Devroy was one of the few who regularly penetrated the veils of "spin" to tell readers what the president was doing and why it was important.

She worked the White House beat for 15 years -- from 1979 to 1985 for the Gannett newspapers and USA Today and from 1989 to her death for The Post -- and she covered four presidents -- Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George Bush and Bill Clinton -- and 10 White House chiefs of staff.

In a statement issued on learning of her death, President Clinton said: "For more than a decade, no journalist dominated and defined the White House beat with the kind of skill, shrewd analysis and gruff grace that Ann brought to her reporting.

"As the saying goes, she always knew how to afflict the comfortable -- and she made more than one president squirm -- but she did comfort the afflicted. When the White House did not get a fair shake in the press, Ann would often be the first to set the record straight."

Ms. Devroy once summed up her attitude toward her profession in these words: "Sometimes {officials} don't understand, reporting is aggression -- civilized, proper, polite, but it's aggression."

Much of her success came from plain hard work and persistence. In addition to reading widely, she had an enormous variety of sources, among appointed officials, the permanent civil service staff of the White House and other parts of the government.

It was one of those sources who once provided her with a copy of the White House payroll. Congress had asked for it; the White House had refused to provide it. But she had a source who printed it out for her.

Apart from such scoops, Ms. Devroy made sure she was prepared for stories she knew were coming up, whether they concerned affirmative action, the budget or a presidential visit to the beaches of Normandy to mark the anniversary of D-day.

Ms. Devroy also was known for her temper, which she used with regularity to cow not only the people she covered but also the people for whom she worked.

Speaking at a seminar for reporters, she expressed her disdain for the view that reporters should cozy up to their sources. Rather, she said, "they need to be afraid of you."

She went on to relate a conversation she had with George Stephanopoulos, at the time one of Clinton's top aides, in which she said, "If you can't tell me, I'll respect that, but if you ever lie to me . . . " Ms. Devroy then spelled out exactly what she would do.

She was prolific. In 1994, The Post printed 300 stories bearing her byline, an astonishing number by the standards of the news business.

Marlin Fitzwater, the press secretary in the Bush White House, remembered the frequency with which she would call him at home at night. Andrew Rosenthal, the White House correspondent for the New York Times during the Bush administration and Ms. Devroy's main competition at that time, described her as "the scariest and most generous reporter I've ever known. She would kick your butt 24 hours a day."

Michael McCurry, Clinton's press secretary, described Ms. Devroy as "relentless in her pursuit of information. Any performance less than thorough by a press secretary was thoroughly unacceptable."

McCurry added that she had the ability to make her basically adversarial relationship with the White House an amicable one.

Dee Dee Myers, a former Clinton press secretary, recently described Ms. Devroy as one of the best reporters at the White House. "She would never cut you any slack," Myers said. ". . . At the same time, I think Ann {worked} really hard to get it right."

Myers said that despite her differences with Ms. Devroy, she had no hesitation in giving her the story of her resignation from the White House.

If her story was correct, Ms. Devroy did not care if it angered officials or pleased them. She once drew the public wrath of John H. Sununu, President Bush's first chief of staff, during a Rose Garden ceremony at which Bush signed a civil rights bill. Sununu approached her and yelled: "You're a liar! Your stories are all lies! Everything you write is a lie!"

When she asked him what he was talking about, Sununu walked away. It was assumed, however, that he was referring to stories about his use of government transportation for personal business, a factor in his subsequent resignation from the government.

Ms. Devroy was as interested in the process by which government policy is made as she was in the policy itself. She had a talent for putting a story in focus without losing any of its complexity, and she could do it under the pressure of deadline.

That talent was evident in two of her stories published on Jan. 7, 1996, about the apparent end of a budget stalemate between the Clinton White House and the Republican-led Congress that twice led to government shutdowns. On the previous night, the two sides had agreed in principle that the budget should be balanced in seven years.

But while most observers had been reporting that an agreement was inevitable, Ms. Devroy told her readers that the process was in fact extremely difficult and might not take place:

"Even though Clinton has submitted a budget that Republicans say can form the basis for negotiations, there are serious philosophical and monetary differences between the Republican proposal and Clinton's on such issues as Medicaid and Medicare and no assurance that the two sides can agree on a seven-year plan to balance the federal budget."

In a companion piece, she said that the key question remained unresolved: "Will the heart of the Republican agenda become law or merely part of the political landscape?"

In fact, no agreement to balance the budget was reached that year. Her reporting was all the more remarkable, considering that she wrote the stories in two hours on a Saturday night while working in her kitchen, with editors on one phone and sources on another.

Ms. Devroy had an ability to make friends with people on all sides of a political question. One such was Mary Matalin, a high official in Bush's unsuccessful 1992 reelection campaign and now the wife of James Carville, one of Clinton's top campaign aides.

"We used to to laugh on the campaign that my biggest sin was not being Carville's girlfriend, it was being Devroy's girlfriend," Matalin said.

At the end of the 1992 campaign, first lady Barbara Bush and her sister, Nancy Ellis, decided to play a game in which everyone on the plane would choose a person to whom to say, "I told you so," if Bush won. Bush picked Ann Devroy, but it was done in fun. (Another person chose the entire State of California.)

Last summer, when Ms. Devroy was in Texas for medical treatment, President Bush wrote her a note saying: "I want you to win this battle. I want the same toughness that angered me and frustrated me to a fare-thee-well at times to see you through your fight. . . .

"And then when you come back and write some story that I don't agree with, I'll moan and complain; but I'll understand with crystal clarity why so many of your friends, so many of your colleagues, respect you -- love you."

Ann Mary Devroy was born in Green Bay, Wis., Oct. 9, 1948. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire with a degree in journalism in 1970. By that time, she already had been an intern at the Milwaukee Journal and a reporter at the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. In 1970, she moved to New Jersey and went to work for Gannett's Courier-News in Bridgewater.

Her interest in politics began with the anti-war movement in the late 1960s. In New Jersey, she began covering local politics and developed a fascination with the Republican Party.

In 1977, Gannett transferred her to its Washington bureau. She covered Congress until 1979, when she was assigned to the White House.

In 1985, Ms. Devroy joined The Post. She was the paper's political editor until taking over the White House beat in 1989.

Survivors include her husband, Mark Matthews, and their daughter, Sarah, of Washington; her mother, Elaine A. Bellin of Rockville; a brother, Neil Devroy of Heath, Tex.; and two stepbrothers, Michael Ryan of Madison, Wis., and James Ryan of Savage, Minn.

In announcing her death to the staff, Leonard Downie Jr., The Post's executive editor, described Ms. Devroy as "the best in the business. . . . We loved her, and we will miss her terribly." DAVID BRONHEIM AID Consultant

David Bronheim, 65, who as a senior consultant to the U.S. Agency for International Development advised Eastern European governments on improving their legal institutions, was killed in a car crash Oct. 19 near the Georgian Republic capital of Tbilisi.

According to a report from the Associated Press, Mr. Bronheim was one of four people in a car that collided with a truck outside Tbilisi. Mr. Bronheim was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the car also was killed, and the two other passengers were injured.

Mr. Bronheim, who had lived in Arlington County since the late 1980s, was visiting the former Soviet republic as a project manager of several U.S. contracts to foster the development of the judicial systems, constitutional tribunals and prosecutors' offices in Russia, Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia.

He had been an assistant administrator of AID during the Carter administration. His association with AID began in 1960 when he joined the agency to help develop economic assistant programs for Latin America.

He held several positions at AID before being named deputy U.S. coordinator for the Alliance for Progress, an effort to improve relations with Latin America, in 1966. A year later, he left AID and soon became a fellow of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

He was born in New York City and graduated from the University of Michigan. After receiving a law degree cum laude from Harvard University, he briefly worked in the legal department of the World Bank.

In the 1970s, he lived in New York, where he was executive director of the Center of InterAmerican Relations in New York City and then vice president of the Dreyfus Group.

His marriage to Helen Horowitz ended in divorce.

Survivors include his companion, Mary Jane Egr of Arlington; two children, Jeffrey Bronheim of London and Elizabeth Semler of New York City; and a sister. FRANCISCO SEGUNDO CESPEDES Educator

Francisco Segundo Cespedes, 91, an educator who retired in 1971 as director of education for the Organization of American States, died Oct. 19 at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital after a heart attack.

Mr. Cespedes had served 25 years in educational positions at the OAS, including 10 years as director of education. He also had been an educator in his native Panama for 17 years. His positions there included superintendent of schools for the Republic of Panama, deputy minister of education and professor at the University of Panama.

He was a graduate of Teachers College at Columbia University, where he also received a master's degree in education.

He was born in Las Tablas, Panama, and settled in the Washington area as a permanent resident in 1950. He lived in Rockville.

Mr. Cespedes had received the Andres Bello Inter-American Prize in Education, which is given annually by the OAS. He was the author of books and pamphlets on education in Latin America, and he conducted a Montgomery County public school educational survey for Latin Americans moving to the county.

His wife, Eloise F. Cespedes, died in 1985.

Survivors include two children, Yolanda Hunt and Francisco P. Cespedes, both of Rockville; and a grandchild. A son, Chi Chi Cespedes, died in 1946. A daughter, Amanda R. Cespedes, died in 1971. SHARON LYNN KIRK Kindergarten Master Teacher

Sharon Lynn Kirk, 64, an author of an adult educational planning guide who was a former kindergarten master teacher in Wheaton and Rockville, died of cancer Oct. 17 at her home in Englewood, Colo.

Mrs. Kirk taught and supervised student teachers at Harmony Hills Elementary School in Wheaton for about five years beginning in the mid-1950s. She then taught five years at Brookhaven Elementary School in Rockville until the mid-1960s.

She was a native of Earlville, Ill., and a graduate of Monmouth College. In the 1950s, she came to the Washington area, where she received a master's degree in psychological counseling from George Washington University.

She moved to Denver in the late 1970s, received a doctorate degree in education from the University of Northern Colorado and worked as a college counselor. In 1987, she co-wrote "How to Get a College Degree When You Think You Are Too Old, Too Broke and Too Scared."

Survivors include her husband of 43 years, Irwin Kirk of Englewood; two children, Douglas Kirk of Parker, Colo., and Julia Hvasta of Charlotte; and two grandsons. WILLIAM J. LINANE Jr. Lawyer

William J. Linane Jr., 68, a lawyer who worked for the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Government National Mortgage Association and retired in 1987 after a year with the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp., died Sept. 30 at his home in Mineral, Va. He had a heart ailment.

Mr. Linane was a native of Bridgeport, Conn., and a graduate of Fairfield University and the law school of Catholic University.

He began his career with the office of the general counsel at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. At GNMA, he was a senior legal attorney with the mortgage-backed securities program.

Mr. Linane was a member of advisory boards of the Capital Corporate, Postal Service and HUD credit unions and the D.C. Credit Union League and Credit Union National Association.

Survivors include his wife, Mary Anne Linane of Fairfax; two children, William J. Linane III of Leesburg and Michele Linane of Clifton; two sisters; and two grandchildren. JOAN SCOPPA Church Member

Joan Scoppa, 67, a member of St. Bernadette's Catholic Church in Springfield who volunteered for local organizations, died of congestive heart failure Oct. 20 at Fairfax Inova Hospital. A resident of Springfield, she had lived in the Washington area for 34 years.

Mrs. Scoppa was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. After her marriage, she accompanied her husband, Col. Joseph Scoppa Jr., to Marine Corps posts in the United States. He died in 1988.

In the 1980s, she was a clerk at Tots 'n Teens and the Saratoga Hardware Store in Springfield. She was treasurer of the Saratoga Tenants Association.

She was a driver for members of religious orders in Northern Virginia and volunteered at the Ecumenical Council for Helping Others and the Springfield Youth Club.

Survivors include four children, Terri Richard of Springfield, Steven Scoppa of Frederick, Md., Paul Scoppa of Steamboat Springs, Colo., and James Scoppa of Yampa, Colo.; a sister; and two grandchildren. ROBERT L. FALLOW CIA Station Chief

Robert L. Fallow, 78, who retired in 1971 after four years as the Central Intelligence Agency station chief in London, died of a cardiovascular disorder Oct. 20 at the Carroll County (Md.) General Hospital.

Mr. Fallow, who lived in Union Bridge since 1988, began a 19-year career with the CIA in 1952 after working on the staff of a joint congressional committee monitoring the Marshall Plan for the post-World War II economic recovery of Europe.

He was born in Hartford, Conn., and graduated with a degree in English from Amherst College. He served with the Marine Corps during World War II and worked as a reporter for the Hartford Courant and Tide Magazine, an advertising trade journal, and as a writer for a public relations firm in New York.

Survivors include his wife, Suzanne W. Fallow of Union Bridge; four sons, Charles W., of Silver Spring, Marc E., of Washington, David R., of Madison, Wis., and Allan B., of Alexandria; a daughter, Jean S. Fallow of Seattle; a brother; a sister; and eight grandchildren. JEANNETTE GRUDER Teacher

Jeannette Gruder, 85, who in 1985 became the first resident of the Charter House, a retirement community in Silver Spring, died of congestive heart failure Oct. 20 at her home there.

Mrs. Gruder, who was born in Vienna, immigrated to New York from her homeland after the Nazi takeover of Austria in 1938. In the 1940s and 1950s, she accompanied her husband, Victor Gruder, who was then a Defense Department procurement specialist, to his assignments in Germany and France.

In 1961, they moved to Washington but then returned to Europe four years later, eventually settling in Paris. She moved to the Washington area in 1985 after the death of her husband.

Survivors include a daughter, Monica Gruder Drake of Vancouver, British Columbia; and a brother. CONSTANT CHUNG-TSE SHIH International Trade Policy Expert

Constant Chung-Tse Shih, 82, a retired expert on international trade policy who had worked for the United Nations and what is now the World Trade Organization, died of cancer Oct. 21 at his home in Falls Church.

Mr. Shih, who was born in Anhui Province, China, moved to Falls Church from Geneva shortly after his retirement as a trade policy adviser to the secretary general of the United Nations in 1978. In recent years, he was a consultant and lecturer on international trade policy.

He graduated from the University of Manchester in England and received a master's degree in international economics from the University of London.

After serving on the Chinese delegation to the 1947 U.N. Conference on Trade and Employment in Havana, he began a 24-year career with the World Trade Organization in Geneva. Over the years, he served as director of external relations, director of economic development, senior counselor on commercial policy and director of trade policy training.

He joined the United Nations in 1973. Among his duties there, he headed a task force that assisted developing countries prepare for multilateral trade negotiations.

Survivors include his wife of 49 years, Daisy Shih of Falls Church; two sons, Bernard, of San Marino, Calif., and Anthony, of Lausanne, Switzerland; two daughters, Diana Shih and Catherine Shih, both of New York City; and three grandchildren. LEROY WELLS Jr. Howard University Professor

Leroy Wells Jr., 45, who had been a graduate associate professor of organizational communications in the Department of Human Communications at Howard University since 1992, died Oct. 20 after a heart attack at Georgetown University Medical Center. He lived in Washington.

Dr. Wells, a native of New York, was a graduate of Utica (N.Y.) College of Syracuse University. He received master's degrees in administrative science and organizational behavior, and a doctorate in organizational behavior from Yale University.

He was an associate professor at Howard University's school of business from 1977 to 1991. He then moved to Howard University's Department of Human Communications Studies in 1991 and was named graduate associate professor a year later.

As an associate professor at Howard, he also was a lecturer with the Psychology Department at the University of Maryland, a research coordinator and a consultant at the University of California at Los Angeles and an assistant professor at American University's School of Government and Public Administration.

He was a member of Phi Kappa Phi honor society, a Beach fellow at Yale University and a W.W. Smith Foundation post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School.

Survivors include his wife, Anita Cooke Wells, and their son, Leroy S. Wells, both of Washington; and his mother, Eva Mitchell Wells of New York. MARY B. WIRE Elementary School Principal

Mary B. Wire, 75, who was a principal of Montgomery County elementary schools for 25 years, died of cancer Oct. 22 at Holy Cross Hospital.

Mrs. Wire was principal of Radnor Elementary School in Bethesda from 1955 to 1961, Connecticut Park Elementary School in Wheaton from 1961 to 1972 and Wyngate Elementary School in Bethesda for eight years until her retirement in 1980.

Mrs. Wire, who lived in Rockville, was a native of Frostburg, Md. She graduated from Beall High School in Frostburg and Frostburg State College, and she received a master's degree in elementary education from the University of Maryland.

She began her career in the early 1940s as a teacher at Four Corners Elementary School in Silver Spring. She later taught at East Silver Spring Elementary School and Montgomery Knolls Elementary School, also in Silver Spring.

She was a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Rockville.

Her avocations included theater, gardening and bridge.

Her husband, Paul F. Wire, died in 1990. Survivors include a sister, Catherine B. Langan of Frostburg; and three brothers, Paul Byrnes of Sarasota, Fla., Joseph Byrnes of Rockville and James Byrnes of West River. DOROTHY J. JOHNSON Saleswoman

Dorothy J. Johnson, 78, a saleswoman at the Woodward & Lothrop store at Seven Corners for 20 years, died of kidney failure Oct. 18 at a hospital in Fort Worth.

Mrs. Johnson was born in Plymouth, England, and grew up on Long Island. She moved to Falls Church in 1957 and worked at Lord & Taylor before moving to California in 1992 and then to Texas.

Her husband, J. Clifford Johnson, died in 1976. Survivors include two sons, J. Clifford Johnson Jr. of Fort Worth and J. Richard Johnson of Charlotte; and six grandchildren. PEGGY WHITMAN O'CONNOR Hospital Volunteer

Peggy Whitman O'Connor, 69, who was a volunteer at the Washington Hospital Center and a receptionist at the hospital's nursing school in the 1970s, died of sepsis Oct. 21 at Holy Cross Hospital. She lived in Silver Spring.

Ms. O'Connor was a native of Washington and a graduate of Coolidge High School. She attended the University of Maryland, where she was a member of Alpha Omicron Pi sorority.

As a young woman, she worked as a model in New York for the Conover agency.

Her marriage to Richard Emmet Howard ended in divorce.

Survivors include three children, Marianne Howard of Silver Spring, Melinda Howard of Germantown and Patrick Howard of Orlando; two sisters, Nancy Clair of Chicago and Betty Ray de Zevallos of Rockville; and a granddaughter. JOHNNESS H. GREENE Nursing Home Owner

Johnness H. Greene, 86, who operated Greene's Personal Care Home on Newton Street NE from the early 1970s until 1986, died of a heart ailment Oct. 20 at Washington Hospital Center. She was a lifelong resident of Washington.

Mrs. Greene was a graduate of Armstrong High School, and she worked as a clerk at the War Department in the 1940s. She later was a taxicab owner.

Mrs. Greene was an officer of a local association of personal care home operators, a member of McKendree United Methodist Church in Washington and president of the Gateway Civic Association.

Her marriages to Robert D. Green and Glenwood Greene ended in divorce. Two children from her first marriage died, Roland Green in 1972 and Robert Green in 1980.

Survivors include three children from her first marriage, Barbara G. Hazel of Potomac, Gloria G. Hooks of Washington and Johnness G. Lundgren of Columbia; a son from her second marriage, Glenwood Greene Jr. of Washington; 16 grandchildren; and 10 great-grandchildren. CAPTION: In early 1996, Ann Devroy interviewed President Clinton. She covered the White House for 15 years for Gannett papers and The Washington Post.