Jesse R. Barnet, 51, a fundraiser and public relations official in the Washington area since 1954 who was active in amateur theatricals, was found dead Sunday at his home in Washington. The D.C. Medical Examiner's office said he had a heart ailment.

Mr. Barnet, who was born in Albany, N.Y., earned a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York in 1952. Two years later, he earned a master's degree in education at Harvard University and then moved to Washington to begin his career in fund-raising and public relations.

His first job was as head of the Washington office of the Social Hygiene Society. Over the years, he also worked for Georgetown University, the National Trust for Historical Preservation and the Urban Land Institute as well as other organizations. He worked for American University until he resigned earlier this year.

For many years, Mr. Barnet helped write and direct music for productions of the Hexagon Club, an amateur theatrical group in Washington.

Mr. Barnet also was a member of the Harvard Club of Washington, the National Society of Fund-Raising Executives, the Friends of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Georgetown Club.

He leaves no immediate survivors.