Howard Ellis Sullivan, 54, a player and manager for several Washington area softball teams and a former night manager of several hotels here, died of a heart attack Monday during a visit to his farm in Culpeper, Va.

Mr. Sullivan came to the Washington area following World War II service in the Army Air Corps. He worked for the Raleighs men's stores for about 10 years and then as a night manager for various hotels, including the Willard, the Watergate and the Embassy Row. He retired from the Embassy Row in 1971 for reasons of health.

But his main interest through the years was softball.He played and managed for a number of teams here and went to five national tournaments. Most recently, he helped start the Monarchs, which were sponsored by the Wilson Powell automobile dealership. He was general menager of the club, which won the metropolitan area championship in 1977.

Mr. Sullivan was born in Shuqualak, Miss. He entered the Army Air Corps after graduating from high school and saw service in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

He was a member of the Scottish Rite - the Albert Pike Conservatory of Washington and the Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church here. He had lived in Camp Springs until shortly before his death, with he moved to St. Petersburg, Fla.

Survivors include a brother, Henry E. Sullivan, of Takoma Park, and three sisters, Agnes Law, of Camp Spring; Bettye Paton, of Hillcrest Heights. and Louise Cooper, of Durham, N.C.