Vernon Ray Louviere, 65, a Labor Department official and former journalist who was a past president of the National Press Club, died of cardiac arrest May 17 at his home in Arlington.

He joined the Labor Department in November 1981 as press secretary to the then-Labor secretary Raymond Donovan. At the time of his death, Mr. Louviere was special assistant to the secretary for public affairs.

He moved here and began his Washington journalism career in 1952. He worked two years at the old Washington Times-Herald, where he was a rewrite man, then spent a decade with the old Timmons News Bureau, which covered stories for more than 20 newspapers in the south and southwest. From 1962 to 1964, Mr. Louviere was assistant chief of the Timmons Washington bureau.

After doing free-lance work for two years, he joined Nation's Business, a magazine published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He worked there from 1966 to 1981 and became a senior editor.

Mr. Louviere served as president of the National Press Club in 1971, and it was during his term that the club opened its door to women members. He also was a member of Sigma Delta Chi, the professional journalism society.

Mr. Louviere was a native of Romeville, La., and studied journalism at Louisiana State University. He began his newspaper career with a newspaper in Baton Rouge, La., in 1940, then served with the Navy in the North Atlantic during World War II. After that, he was an investigative reporter in New Orleans. He also worked for newspapers in Missouri and Ohio before moving here.

Survivors include his wife, Jean, of Arlington; a son, Thomas, of Annandale; three daughters, Nancy Dillow of Woodbridge, Adrian Price of Stockbridge, Ga., and Amy Louviere of Annandale; a sister, Marjorie Andrews of Lake Charles, La., and six grandchildren.