John Poletti, 87, a retired operator of a valet shop near the Washington Navy Yard and a resident of the Washington area for almost 70 years, died Saturday at his home in Forestville following a heart attack. He had diabetes.

Mr. Poletti was born in New York City but grew up in Orria, Italy.He returned to the United States about 1912 and settled in Washington. He became a shoemaker and continued this work for most of his working life. He had his own shop here before going into the Army during World War I. He saw service in France.

After the war, Mr. Poletti went back to shoemaking. For a short time, he had a restaurant in Capital Heights, but then returned to his trade. In 1945, he opened his own business, the Navy Yard Valet, and ran the firm until his retirement about 1960. The shop remains in his family.

Mr. Poletti was a member of Roma Lodge No. 71 of the Order of the Sons of Italy for more than 60 years.

Survivors include his wife, Elena of Forestville; two sons, John Jr. of College Park, and Charles of Danbury, Conn; two brothers, Antonio of Montevideo, Uruguay, and Lorenzo of Orria, Italy, and two grandsons.