Edward J. Thrasher, 84, who worked for the State Department from 1949 to 1967 and retired as first secretary and chief of the Office of Economic Affairs at the American embassy in Laos, died of prostate cancer Nov. 20 at Sibley Memorial Hospital. He lived in Washington.

Mr. Thrasher was born in Philadelphia and raised in Washington, where he graduated from McKinley High School.

He received a bachelor's degree in economics from American University in 1936 and a master's degree in economics from Columbia University in 1957.

From 1938 to 1945, he was a civilian clerk for military attaches at embassies in the Soviet Union, Poland, Romania and South Africa.

After serving a year in the Navy, he worked as an advertising copywriter, among other duties, for an advertising agency in New York.

At State, Mr. Thrasher worked in embassies in Switzerland, Israel, the Philippines and Canada. He also was stationed in the District and spent the last three years of his service in Laos.

From 1974 to 1992, he was a research associate for the American Association of Retired Persons. He then was a docent for a year at the Library of Congress.

He was a member of Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired (DACOR), the old International Club, Army Navy Country Club and Kenwood Country Club.

Survivors include his wife of 56 years, Henderika de Haan Thrasher, of Washington; a daughter, Karen R. Clark of Alexandria; his mother, Anne Nelson Thrasher of Washington; and a granddaughter.