David L. Watson, 70, a retired businessman in Arlington, died Wednesday at Alexandria Hospital of complications from a stroke.

From 1959 until 1974, when he suffered an initial stroke, he had operated Watson Motors, a foreign car garage. It is now operated by a son, Neil C. w

Mr. Watson was born in Norwood, Ohio. He moved to Northern Virginia with his family as a child and graduated from McKinley Tech High School in Washington.

From 1931 until 1944, he owned an electrical contracting business in Arlington. He then purchased the Arlington Ice and Fuel Co., which he operated until establishing Watson Motors.

Mr. Watson, who lived in Annandale, was a past president of the Northern Virginia Electrical League. He belonged to the Arlington County Chamber of Commerce, Columbia Lodge No. 285 of the Masons and Kena Temple. He was a sponsor of the Knights Templar Eye Foundation.

He is survived by his wife, Margaret E., of Annandale; three children, David O., of Arlington, Neil C., of Annandale, and Shirley W. Waldenburg of Boston; a brother, Robert C., of Springfield, Va., and six grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the Salvation Army.