William Doolan, 81, a Washington area businessman who was a Shriner and a former illustrious potentate of the Almas Temple, died Tuesday at Sibley Memorial Hospital. He had suffered from a heart ailment.

Mr. Doolan, who founded the Doolan Elevator Service Co. in 1930 and was president of the firm, was active as a Mason and a Shriner for many years. He was elected illustrious potentate of Almas Temple in 1955.

Organizations to which he belonged included Hope Lodge No. 20, Lafayette Chapter No. 5, RAM, the Potomac Commandery No. 3 of the Knights Templar, the Albert Pike Consistory, MRS of Kallipolis Grotto, the Royal Order of Scotland and the Masonic Veterans Association.

Mr. Doolan was born in New York City and grew up here. He enlisted in the Navy when he was about 15. He settled in Washington when he left the service in the 1920s.

The company he founded installs and maintains elevators and has offices in Rockville. Mr. Doolan was a member of the Universal Craftsmen's Council of Engineers, the Building Owners and Managers Association, and the Washington Building Congress.

He also was a member of Bethesda Country Club.

Survivors include his wife, Gladys, of the home in Silver Spring; a son, William Edward, of Riva, Md.; two daughters, Lora Elizabeth Garnett, of Silver Spring, and Gladys Jean Reed, of Beltsville; a sister, Dorothy Fields, of Alabama; 12 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren.