Charles Earl Wallace, 81, who retired in 1983 from the Interior Department's communications office as a speechwriter and editor, died of a heart attack June 16 at a hospital in Spartanburg, S.C. He moved to Spartanburg from Arlington after he retired.

Mr. Wallace began his career as a part-time reporter in his native Knoxville, Tenn. After moving to Washington to attend George Washington University, he was a clerk with the federal government and assistant director of the GWU press bureau. He served in the Army during World War II and served in the Army Reserve during the Korean War.

He was a public information officer in Georgia and Florida before returning to Washington to be an editor with the National Coal Association. He joined the Newmyer Associates public relations firm in 1951 and Interior's Bureau of Outdoor Recreation in 1963.

Mr. Wallace was a member of the National Press Club, the Federal Editors Association, the Masons, Omicron Delta Kappa and Pi Delta Epsilon fraternities, Trinity Presbyterian Church in Arlington and the Country Club of Fairfax.

Survivors include his wife, Elma Hayes Wallace of Spartanburg; two children, William Hayes Wallace of St. Louis and Nancy Lorene Wallace Davis of Spartanburg; two sisters; and four grandchildren.