Elmer C. Holt, 87, who retired in 1963 as an attorney with Internal Revenue Service, died Saturday at Sibley Memorial Hospital after a stroke. He lived in Washington.

Mr. Holt was born and reared in Northwood, N.D. He worked in a bank there before coming to Washington in 1918. He worked with the old War Department until the early 1920s. After graduating from George Washington University Law School, he joined the Bureau of Internal Revenue, now the IRS, and worked in the chief counsel's office.

He was a graduate of the American Institute of Banking. He had been admitted to practice before the D.C. Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court. At the time of his retirement, he received the Albert Gallatin Award from the Treasurey Department.

Mr. Holt was well-known as an amateur tennis player and taught the game to many youngsters here.

Survivors include his wife of 49 years, Luella M., of Washington; son, Elmer C. Jr., of Fairfax; a daughter; Eleanor A. Tobin of La Mesa, Calif.; a brother, Joseph, of Northwood, and eight grandchildren. Another daughter, Mary Lue Johnson, died last year.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Multiple Sclerosis Society.