Claude John Desautels, 61, a local public relations executive and a former government and Democratic Party official, died Sept. 17 in his home in Washington after a heart attack.

Mr. Desautels, who had been an advance coordinator for the Kennedy-Johnson presidential campaign, was named a special assistant at the White House in 1961. From 1966 to 1968, he was executive assistant to Postmaster General Lawrence F. O'Brien. Mr. Desautels also was an assistant to O'Brien from 1968 to 1969 after O'Brien became chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Mr. Desautels founded Desautels Associates, a Washington public relations firm, in 1969 and was its president until his death. He was a member of the Federal City and International clubs.

He was born in Montreal to parents who were United States citizens. He graduated from Georgetown University's foreign service school in 1949, and later that year, he became executive assistant to then-Rep. Wayne Aspinall (D-Col.), a post he held until joining the White House staff.

He served with the Army in the Pacific during World War II.

Survivors include his wife, Yvette, of Chevy Chase; two sons, Mark and John, both of Silver Spring; two daughters, Suzanne Desautels of Ste. Adele, Quebec, and Claire Anton of Palm Desert, Calif.; a sister, Andre Desautels of Montreal, and one grandchild.