Helen E. Meleney, who taught physical education in Prince George’s County elementary schools for 25 years until her retirement in 1994, died Dec. 24 at Washington Adventist Hospital in Takoma Park. She was 81.

The cause was septic shock and a urinary infection, said her sister, Jane Meleney Coe.

Ms. Meleney spent most of her career at Langley Park-McCormick Elementary School in Hyattsville. She also officiated at middle and high school field hockey games in the Washington area and elsewhere for five decades. In 1983, she traveled to China with a delegation of American physical education teachers.

Helen Elizabeth Meleney was born in the District and graduated in 1950 from the private Sidwell Friends School, where she taught before joining Prince George’s County Public Schools.

She received a bachelor’s degree in physical education from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1954 and a master’s degree, also in physical education, from the University of California at Berkeley in 1959.

Ms. Meleney volunteered with the Audubon Naturalist Society. She began a weekly bird survey at the University of Maryland Golf Course and traveled internationally on birding expeditions, said her sister.

She was a resident of Greenbelt, where she was a member of the Woodlands Committee of Greenbelt Homes and Greenbelt Community Church. She belonged to Alcoholics Anonymous and was a former member and bell ringer at Silver Spring Presbyterian Church.

Survivors include her sister, Jane Meleney Coe of Bethesda; and a brother, Peter Meleney of Oak Bluffs, Mass.

— Emily Langer