Frederic M. Nettleship, 89, an employe of the Equitable Life Insurance Co. who spent 44 years in the insurance industry, died of heart failure Tuesday at Suburban Hospital.

Mr. Nettleship began his career as a life insurance agent in 1911, when he moved to Washington from Philadelphia and joined the Travelers Insurance Co. In 1926, he joined the home office of Equitable Life. He held various positions there, including editor of the company's magazine, member of the company's executive committee and assistant to the vice president in charge of agencies. He retired from Equitable in 1955.

Mr. Nettleship was born in England and came to the United States in 1899.

His memberships included the industrial section of the American Life Convention, the Life Insurance Agency Management Association and the Washington area board of directors of the Young Men's Christian Association. Mr. Nettleship also belonged to Mount Pleasant Masonic Lodge No. 33, Chevy Chase Methodist Church, the Washington Board of Trade and the Life Underwriter's Association.

Survivors include his daughter, Virginia, of the home in Chevy Chase; two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society or a favorite charity.