James F. Smith, 69, who worked for building supply companies for many years and who was a resident of the Washington area for more than 45 years, died of cancer Sunday at Arlington Hospital.

Mr. Smith was born in Danville, Va. He came to the Washington area about 1934 and went to work for a heating equipment company in 1935. He remained with that firm until 1951.

He then joined the Barbera & Ross company, a supplier of building materials, and was manager of its window department at the time of his retirement in 1972. Until he retired a second time in 1977 for reasons of health, Mr. Smith was a factory representative for a window firm.

A resident of Arlington, Mr. Smith was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church there. He also was a member of the South Arlington Lions Club and for many years was its sunshine chairman. He also was a member of the Jim Smith Society, a social organization for persons named Jim Smith.

Survivors include his wife, Mildred M., of Arlington; a daughter, Shelby M. Hawthorne of Williamsburg, Va., and a sister, Mrs. P. E. Winn of St. Petersburg, Fla.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Cancer Society, or to the South Arlington Lions Club.