Henry Cabot Lodge, an aristocratic Massachusetts Republican who was elected to the U.S. Senate three times, served 7 1/2 years as ambassador to the United Nations and was ambassador to South Vietnam as the war there was escalating in the 1960s, died of congestive heart failure yesterday at his home in Beverly, Mass. He was 82.

His career in public life spanned nearly a half century from his election to the Massachusetts legislature in 1932 through service as special envoy to the Vatican ending in 1977, and it was matched for longevity or distinction by few other Americans.

It also included management of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidential campaign in 1952, an unsuccessful bid for the vice presidency on the ticket headed by Richard M. Nixon in 1960, an ambassadorship to West Germany and a year as chief U.S. negotiator at the Paris peace talks, aimed at bringing an end to the war in Vietnam, in 1969.

"The president certainly regrets the loss and extends his deepest sympathy to the family," a White House press officer said last night. "He was a very distinguished American."

House Speaker Thomas (Tip) O'Neill (D-Mass.) said Lodge "was a great friend of mine through the years . . . . He was a leader in Massachusetts and world affairs. He was beautiful and intelligent, and he was concerned about everyone."

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) said Lodge "was one of the greatest statesmen from one of the greatest political families in the history of the commonwealth of Massachusetts . He will be honored and remembered most for his extraordinary achievements as a senator and diplomat, but he is also remembered by all of us in the Kennedy family for the warmth and friendship that endured despite our political rivalry."

It was Kennedy's brother, Rep. John F. Kennedy, who ousted Lodge from his seat in the Senate in the 1952 election, then beat him again in 1960 when Lodge was running for vice president against the Kennedy-Johnson ticket. During the 1952 race, John Kennedy remarked that running against Lodge "was like running against a founding father." In 1962, Edward Kennedy defeated Lodge's son George for the same Senate seat, but the following year President Kennedy picked Lodge as his ambassador to South Vietnam.

Robert W. Komer, an undersecretary of defense who served with Lodge in Vietnam as head of the pacification program, said he was "perhaps the most perceptive ambassador that we had in Vietnam . . . . He understood that it was a political war and that coping with it with political means was the heart of the matter . . . . He was a very engaging fellow, and we worked closely together."

Lodge, who had been in deteriorating health for some time, died about 6 p.m., according to George Lodge.

He was the bearer of two old and prominent New England names, Cabot and Lodge, and the grandson and namesake of Henry Cabot Lodge, who served in the Senate as a Massachusetts Republican from 1893 to 1924 and led the fight against ratification of the Treaty of Versailles and U.S. membership in the League of Nations.

Broad-shouldered, trim and tall -- he stood nearly 6 feet, 3 inches -- Lodge looked every inch the aristocrat, and he was alternately described as friendly, a little arrogant, confident, insensitive, witty, reserved and entertaining.

George Lodge said funeral services for his father will be private.