Leland S. McCarthy, 87, a former businessman and a retired managing director of the Better Business Bureau of Washington, died of respiratory failure Tuesday at the Manor Care nursing home in Wheaton.

Mr. McCarthy was managing director of the BBB from 1953 until his retirement in 1967.

For 21 years before joining that organization, he was the divisional merchandise manager for the Woodward & Lothrop department store. In the early 1950s, he was an official of the Office of Price Stabilization. Earlier, he and his wife operated the Anna May Nichols women's apparel shop. He also worked for a local brokerage.

A native Washingtonian, Mr. McCarthy was selected All-High Baseball Player as a first baseman for three consecutive years while attending Central, Business and McKinley Tech High Schools here and became a semi-pro baseball player. He attended the Pace Institute of Accounting.

He was an Irish tenor and entertained servicemen at camps and hospitals during both world wars. He performed at many local clubs and social affairs.

Mr. McCarthy was an honorary member of the D.C. Kiwanis Club, where he had a perfect attendance record for 31 years, a life member of the Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, and a member of the Advertising Club of Metropolitan Washington. He was a member of the Stansbury Masonic Lodge and a 32nd-degree Mason of the Scottish Rite.

Mr. McCarthy is survived by his wife, the former Cleo Smith, also of Manor Care in Wheaton, whom he married in 1915.