Charles Runyon III, 85, a retired State Department lawyer and former assistant dean of Yale Law School, died Nov. 3 at a convalescent care center in Raleigh, N.C. He had a heart ailment.

Mr. Runyon, who lived in Ocracoke, N.C., came to Washington in 1939 and began his government legal career in the Treasury Department. After serving in the Navy in the Pacific during World War II, he joined the State Department.

He was assistant dean at Yale Law School from 1958 to 1963. During that time, he helped establish a new law school in what is now Tanzania.

He returned to Washington and the State Department in 1963. During his career at State, his assignments included work with the United Nations and service as assistant legal adviser for African affairs. He retired from State in 1981 as assistant legal adviser for human rights affairs.

Mr. Runyon, a former District resident who moved to North Carolina in 1984, was a New York native. He was a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School.

His wife, the former Mary Robbins, died in 1996.

Survivors include a son, John Robbins Runyon of Vienna; two daughters, Nina Runyon Skinner of Dallas and Anne Marshall Runyon Peifer of Raleigh; a brother; eight grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.