Francis A. Sherman, 59, who was vice president of R.A. Donley & Son, a stationery and office supply firm in Prince George's County died Wednesday at his home in Bowie following a heart attack. He was stricken while operating an exercise machine, a family member said.

Mr. Sherman worked for Pratt & Whitney Aircraft in East Hartford, Conn., where he was foreman of the engine testing division, before coming to this area in 1949.

He then joined R.A. Donley, his father-in-law's firm. He was a vice president of the company at the time of his death.

He was a native of Worcester, Mass., and graduated from the Wentworth Institute in Boston in 1940.

He served with the Army Air Corps during World War II.

Mr. Sherman's avocation was golf. He was a member of the Prince Georges Country Club in Landover, where he served on the board of directors and as chairman of the greens committee. He aoso was a member of the Century XXI Club in Germantown, and was golf chairman of the bladensburg Rotary Club.

He competed in Rotary Club tournaments around the world and, in 1976, won the World Rotary Golf Championship in Hawaii.

Survivors include his wife, Edith, of the home; a ddaughter, Elaine S. Curl, of College Park; a son, Roger, of Crawley, W. Va., and a sister, June Sherman Garen, of West Springfield, Mass.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Diabetes Association.