Charles J. Bovello, 87, a Washington barber and union leader, died Thursday at George Washington University Hospital after a heart attack.

A charter member of Barber Union Local 239, he served as its president from 1918 to 1938, and was elected its secretary-treasurer in 1943, serving in that position for more than 20 years.

Mr. Bovello also was active in the International Barbers Union, which has headquarters in Indianapolis. He was appointed to the International's staff in 1963 and named to the committee of the national pension fund a year later.

At the time of his death, he was legislative representative for the International Barbers Union, a position he had held for many years. He also was affiliated with the ABC Beauty and Barber Supply Co. in Washington.

Mr. Bovello was born in Cefula, Italy. He came to this country as a baby and lived in Baltimore before moving to Washington at the turn of the century.

He began working in his father's barbershop as a boy, first lathering men's faces and then cutting hair and giving shaves. He put his shears aside in the early 1940s after he became involved in international union work.

Recently the international honored Mr. Bovello as its oldest living member.

At one time, Mr. Bovello played clarinet with local bands.

In addition to his union affiliations, he was a member of Rome Lodge No. 7 of the Sons of Italy, St. Bernadette's Catholic Parish in Silver Spring and the Holy Name Society.

He is survived by his wife, Amelia J., of the home in Silver Spring; three children, Sue Peratino of Springfield, Va., Emelia Mihm of Washington, and Charlotte Seaggs of Bladensburg; a brother, Anthony, of Silver Spring, 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.