Keith Prouty, 81, a labor organizer and union officer who retired from the Department of Transportation as a labor specialist in the office of the secretary of transportation, died March 14 at Suburban Hospital of complications following exploratory abdominal surgery.

Mr. Prouty retired from the Transportation Department in 1994 after 19 years. His job included liaison work between the office of the secretary and unions for airlines, railroads, trucking and mass transit.

A resident of Bethesda, he was born in Evanston, Ill., and graduated from Dartmouth College. He received a master's degree in economics from Yale.

He began his working career as a deckhand on an oil tanker in 1941, then during World War II served in the Army in Europe. After the war, he had a series of blue-collar jobs at factories in Connecticut, then in 1959 became an economist for the Connecticut State Labor Council of the AFL-CIO.

In 1963, he became research director of the United Rubber Workers union in Akron, Ohio, then in 1966 came to this area as director of development and research for the Communications Workers of America. He had a similar job for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. In 1973, he became an administrator of wage and price controls at the Cost of Living Council for Secretary of Labor John Dunlop. In 1975, he joined the Department of Transportation, remaining there until retirement.

He was active in political organizations and was political action chairman of the Maryland NAACP, Montgomery County NAACP and Black Ministers of Montgomery County.

Mr. Prouty was a former president of the Walter Johnson High School PTSA. He had received a distinguished service award from the Maryland State Conference of the NAACP.

Between the ages of 60 and 74, he ran 11 marathons.

Survivors include his wife, Muriel Sacks Prouty of Bethesda; four children, David Prouty of Nyack, N.Y., Douglas Prouty of Silver Spring, Carolyn Prouty of Elma, Wash., and Eleanor Prouty of Benicia, Calif.; a brother; and five grandchildren.