John A. Wells, 72, a senior partner in the Washington and New York law firm of Rogers & Wells who was active in Republican politics, died Monday in his office in New York City after a heart attack.

Mr. Wells was national campaign director for Nelson A. Rockefeller's unsuccessful drive for the 1964 Republican presidential nomination.

Mr. Wells also managed the reelection campaigns of Sen. Jacob K. Javits (R-N.Y.) in both 1962 and 1968.

Mr. Wells had campaigned with Herbert Brownell at Republican conventions, on behalf of Thomas Dewey in 1948 and Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952. Mr. Wells also was an assistant to Leonard W. Hall in the presidential election campaign of Richard M. Nixon in 1960.

Mr. Wells began his legal career in New York in 1937. He was a member of the New York in 1937. He was a member of the New York and District of Columbia bar associations, and also was admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.

A native of New York City, he graduated with high honors and high distinction from Wesley an University in Middletown, Conn., in 1932. He was a Rhodes scholar and earned three degrees at Oxford University before returning to this country and earning a law degree at Harvard University.

He has been a partner of Rogers & Wells and it predecessor law firms since 1947. William P. Rogers, former U.S. secretary of state and another of the firm's senior partners, said on learning of Mr. Wells' death:

"Jack Wells was a lawyer of outstanding ability, totally and energetically devoted to the best interest of his clients. He was one of New York's leading lawyers, a man of great integrity and a man who will be sadly missed by his many friends and associates."

Mr. Wells was described by another of the firm's attorneys as an authority in general business and corporate law who was active in apellate litigation.

In addition to private practice, he had been chief counsel of the Office of Price Administration in 1942, then assistant counsel of the Navy Price Administration Board in 1944 to 1945. He also served on active duty with the Navy during part of World War II and attained the rank of lieutenant commander.

Mr. Wells and his wife, Pauline, made their home in Rye, N.Y. His other survivors include seven children and five grandchildren.