Clara Hyatt Volpe, 84, who worked for the government for more than 30 years before retiring in 1977 as the White House chief of correspondence, died of cancer Aug. 20 at her home in the Virginian in Fairfax.

She began her government career during World War II as an examiner in the War Department's tax amortization section. She later worked for the Agency for International Development and the State Department before going to the White House in 1963.

Mrs. Volpe served as correspondence chief from 1973 until retiring in 1977. The department she directed handled presidential correspondence and also worked on such related matters as presidential speeches.

After retiring, she took up watercolor painting, studying in this country and abroad and being featured in a one-person show. She belonged to the Fairfax Art League, the Springfield Art Guild and the Vienna Art Society.

Mrs. Volpe, a North Carolina native, had lived in the Washington area for more than 60 years. She had attended John Tyler College in Chester, Va., the University of Maryland and the Washington School for Secretaries.

She was a member of Fairfax Presbyterian Church.

Her first husband, Harold Cooper Hyatt, whom she married in 1940, died in 1977. Her second husband, Oliver L. Volpe, whom she married in 1983, died in 1993. Survivors include a son from her first marriage, Craig Hyatt of Hyattsville; two stepdaughters, Sharleen Volpe Martin of Pinehurst, N.C., and Patricia Volpe Martin of Washington, Pa.; her twin brother; a sister; and two grandchildren. A daughter from her first marriage, Marsha Hyatt Bittner, died in 1994.