Laurence C. Staples, 87, who was executive director of All Souls Church (Unitarian) in Washington for 35 years, died yesterday at his home here. He had suffered from a heart ailment.
He became associated with the church when he came to Washington after World War I to be assistant eductional director of the U.S. Public Health Service.
In 1923, Dr. Staples was named Mid-Western secretary of the Unitarian Laymen's League. A year later he rejoined All Souls Church at its new location at 16th and Harvard streets NW, becoming its executive director.
During his years of service, All Souls became one of the major congregations in the city. He helped in the establishment of eigt Unitarian churches in the Washington area. In addition to his administrative work, he helped counsel church members.
After his retirement in 1959 as executive director, Dr. Staples continued as a part-time consultant at the church until the following year.
The son and grandson of Unitarian ministers, he was born in Saint Cloud, Minn. He grew up in Burlington, Vt.
He graduated from Harvard University in 1912 and earned a master's degree in social ethics there a year later. He worked at South End in Boston for two years and taught at Harvard and Radcliffe College.
In 1915, Dr. Staples went to Europe on a Harvard traveling fellowship. He studied at the London School of Economics and did field work in social studies in Ireland. He was coauthor of a book, "Rural Reconstruction in Ireland," published in 1917.
During World War I, Dr. Staples served with the U.S. Army infantry in France.
In addition to his work with All Souls Church, he had served as president of the Joseph Priestly Conference and was a member of the Middle Atlantic States Council of Unitarian Churches and the board of directors of the United Unitarian Appeal.
He was twice honored in 1959 when he received the first annual Meritorious Layman Service Award of the Greater Washington Association of Unitarian Churches, and an honorary doctor of divinty degree from Meadville Theological School in Chicago.
He is survived by his wife, Ruth, of the home; two daughters, Dorothy Egbert, of Frederick, Md., and Priscilla Goodby, of Washington; a sister, Priscilla Rixmann, of East Falmouth, Mass.; two brothers, Warren, of Middletown, Md., and Robert, of Brenham, Tex., and seven grandchildren.