John Alfred Connolly, 81, a retired director of the Chevy Chase Community Center for the D.C. department of recreation, died Jan. 22 at Georgetown University Hospital. He had heart and lung aliments.

Mr. Connolly began his carrer with the D.C. government in 1943. He had been director of the Chevy Chase facility for many years at the time of his retirement in 1973.

He was born in Waltham, Mass. He served in the Army in France during World War I. He attended Boston College and later switched to George Washington University and then to Georgetown University, playing football for both schools. He graduated from Notre Dame in 1926 with a degree in boys' guidance, at that time a new subject at the school.

His career was in youth programs. He was an assistant supervisor of a boys club in Detroit. He helped run programs for juvenile delinquents there and in Dayton, Ohio; New Haven Conn.; and Boston.

In the late 1930s, he went on active duty in the Army, in which he held a reserve commission, and was assigned to the Civilian Conservation Corps. In World War Ii/, he was assigned to Washington as head of a recreational area that was set up in a tent camp near Arlington National Cemetery. He left the Army to Join the D.C. government.

Mr. Connolly was a member of the Notre Dame Club of Washington, the Georgetown Alumni Association, and the Association of American Military Engineers.

Surviviors include a brother, Joseph J., of Boston, and a sister, Mrs. Austin C. Magee, of Bethesda.