William J. Haggerty, 72, a retired insurance executive who was active in local charitable organizations, died Wednesday at Sibley Memorial Hospital after a stroke.

Mr. Haggerty began his career in 1937 as an agent with the Aetna Life Insurance Co. in Los Angeles. In 1946, he moved to Washington as branch manager of the Occidental Life Insurance Co. of California. After his retirement in 1972, he remained with the company as a general agent.

A former budget committee chairman of United Community Services of Washington, he served as the organization's president in 1955 and later was a founding member of its successor, the United Givers Fund, which was in turn a predecessor of the United Way of the National Capital Area.

In 1971, he received the Berrnard L. Wilner Memorial Award from the D.C. Life Underwriters Association. He was a former president and director of the Association.

He was a former president of the Life Insurance General Agents and Managers Association of Washington and former member of the board of directors of St. Joseph's Home and School for Boys and Catholic Charities.

In recent years, he was active in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons and the Taxpayers League of Montgomery County. He served as a delegate to the Montgomery County Association of Senior Citizens Organizations.

Mr. Haggerty was born in Butte, Mont., and earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Loyola University in Los Angeles in 1931.

He lived in Chevy Chase and attended the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Washington.

Survivors include his wife of 44 years, the former Vera McNeil, of Chevy Chase; two sons, Robert J., of Washington and Michael Jr., of Silver Spring; a daughter, Carol Galotta of Laurel; three sisters, Frances Burnett, Maybelle Cassidy and Madge Baker, all of Los Angeles, and seven grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to Catholic Charities.