Louis E. Harris, 83, founder and chairman of the board of the L. E. Harris Agency Inc., a Washington insurance firm, died at Doctor's Hospital Saturday after a heart attack.

Mr. Harris was born in Philadelphia and came to Washington following World War I service in the Marine Corps. He attended the old Rockwell School of Life Insurance here and began his career as an insurance agent in 1922. He sold group life insruance policies to employes of government agencies. The employes would join the plan on a voluntary basis.

During World War II, Mr. Harris served in the Army Air Corps. Shortly after the war ended, the government began providing its own life insurance to federal employes. Mr. Harris switched from life insurance to property and casualty insurance.

He remained active in his agency until his death.

Mr. Harris was a former golf champion of the Woodmont Country Club. He also was a member of the old Amity and Variety clubs.

Survivors include his wife, Muriel R., of the home in Washington; two children, Ruth Ann Allen, of Washington, and jerome J. Harris, of Burtonsville, Md.; a sister, Gertrude H. Aronstein, of Bethesda; a brother, A. Mitchell Harris, of Sarasota, Fla., and six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to a charity of one's choice.