Odie R. Howell Sr., 86, a retired postal employe and former Arlington County policeman, died Wednesday at Jefferson Memorial Hospital after a heart attack. He had been a resident of the Leewood Nursing Home in Annandale for the last 5 1/2 years.

Born in Augusta County, Va., Mr. Howell served as a sergeant with the Army Medical Corps in Washington in World War I. After the war, he made his home in Arlington.

From 1920 to 1926, owned and operated the Washington - Fort Myer - Arlington Bus Co., which consisted of two jitneys running between Fort Myer and Georgetown by wya of Rosslyn.

Mr. Howell sold his bus company to the Arnold line and opened the O. R. Howell real estate company in Clarendon, which he operated until 1937 when he became a member of the Arlington County police force.

While a policeman, he was injured by a speeding auto when he rescued an 8-year-old child at a school crossing. He received a special citation.

In 1943, Mr. Howel left the police force to join the staff of the main Arlington County Post Office, where he worked until retiring in 1962.

He was a member of Columbia Lodge No. 285 of the Masons for 59 years and a life-long member of the Ballston Volunteer Fire Department and American Legion Post 139.

He is survived by two sons, Odie R. Jr., of Alexandria, and Richard E., of Sterling; a daughter, Barbara Taylor, of Herndon, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy may be in the form of contributions to the activities fund of the Leewood Nursing Home.