James H. Short, a medicinal chemist who retired from the Food and Drug Administration in 1999, died June 8 at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville. He was 84.

The cause was complications from cancer, said his wife, Janice B. Short.

Mr. Short, a resident of Montgomery Village, had worked for the FDA for about 15 years and was previously employed by a pharmaceutical company in Ohio, the University of Louisville’s medical school and Abbott Laboratories in Illinois.

James Harold Short was born in Leavenworth, Kan. He served in the Army for two years in the 1950s. He received a bachelor’s degree in humanities and sciences from Stanford University in 1950 and a doctorate in medicinal chemistry from the University of Kansas in 1954.

Mr. Short held leadership positions with the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association, his wife said. He also volunteered in the botany department of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History and belonged to Darnestown Presbyterian Church.

His wife of 14 years, Patricia Hart Catto Short, died in 1970.

Survivors include his wife of 40 years, Janice Blackburn Short of Montgomery Village; a daughter from his first marriage, Paula Short of Sidney, Ohio; three stepchildren, Patricia Wyatt of Sidney, Ohio, Laura O’Sullivan of Sarasota, Fla., and Gregory Harris of Arlington, Tex.; six grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

— Emily Langer