Evelyn L. Pruitt, 81, who served 25 years as a geographer for the Department of the Navy before retiring in 1973, died of pneumonia Jan. 19 at Northern Virginia Community Hospital.

Ms. Pruitt, who lived in Arlington, was born in San Francisco. She graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles, where she also received a master's degree in geography. In 1983, she received an honorary doctorate from Louisiana State University in recognition of her work in geographic research.

She settled in the Washington area 50 years ago and began her career with the Navy, where she became director of geography programs of the office of naval research. She organized and directed the Navy's coastal program, and she focused attention on the critical environments of the world's coastal areas.

In retirement, Ms. Pruitt was a consultant to the Army Corps of Engineers and a member of the Army Shoreline Erosion Panel. She helped establish the Coastal Studies Institute at Louisiana State University.

She was the first president of the Coastal Society, treasurer of the Society of Women Geographers and editor of the Professional Geographer for the Association of American Geographers. She had been a regents professor at UCLA.

Her honors included the Navy's Superior Civilian Service Award, a Citation for Meritorious Contributions to the Field of Geography and the James R. Anderson Medal of Honor from the Association of American Geographers.

There are no immediate survivors.