John . Shelton, 66, the owner and operator of his own real esate firm in Southeast Washington since 1947, died of cancer Tuesday at his home in Washington.

Mr. Shelton, who was born in Hazlehurst, Miss., moved here after the death of his father in 1927. While attending the public schools, he lived at the home of his sister, Burnita S. Matthews, now a retired senior judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

He began his real estate career in 1937 as a salesman with Frank S. Phillips, Inc. He worked for several other firms before he obtained his broker's license three years later.

He established his own company after World War II, during which he served briefly in the Army and then held a war-related job with the old Capital Transit Co., a predecessor of the Metro system. He and his wife, Louise, operated the firm until his death.

Mr. Shelton was a member of the Kenna-Main American Legion Post, the Washington Real Estate Board and the Anacostia Lions Club.

In addition to his wife and Judge Shelton, both of Washington, survivors include four daughters, Mary Berfnheisel of Accokeek, Md., Burnita Shelton of Washington, Jeanne S. Gault of Suitland, Md., and Lee Shelton of Helena, Mont.