John M. Farrell, 50, a priest for 11 years who later sold life insurance in the Washington area, died Saturday at his home in Bowie after a heart attack.

Mr. Farrell was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1958 and served as an Air Force chaplain in the Philippines and Vietnam during the 1960s.

He came to Washington in 1968 and spent two years as a coordinator and counselor with the city's Vocational Rehabilitation department. He left the priesthood in 1969.

Mr. Farrell began selling insurance in 1970 and had been an agent with Colonial Life & Accident Insurance of Washington for the past three years. c

Mr. Farrell was a native of Rochester, N.Y., and a graduate of both the Aquinas Institute of Philosophy & Theology in River Forest, Ill., and Assumption University in Windsor, Ontario. He also earned a teacher's certificate at the University of Detroit and a master's degree in English at Notre Dame University.

Survivors include his wife, June, two sons, Boyd and Kevin, and a daughter, Sandra, all of Bowie where the Farrells had made their home for the past eight years, and two brothers, Brother James E. Farrell, OSA, of Villanova University in Villanova, Pa., and Robert E., of Mountain View, Calif.