Retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Frederick J. Dau, 73, who was credited with modernizing the supply system of the Air Force, died Friday at Williamsburg Community Hospital after a stroke. He had moved to Williamsburg, Va., from Arlington five years ago.

At the time of his military retirement in 1959, Gen. Dau was director of supply at headquarters, Air Materiel Command, Wright Air Force Base in Ohio.

He then became an official of Champion International in Ohio, retiring for a second time in 1973. He was the executive vice president and chief operating officer at that time.

He lived in Arlington from 1973 to 1975.

At the time of his death, Gen. Dau was a trustee of the Logistic Management Institute in Washington and on the board of Sargent Industries. m

He was born in Fresno, Calif. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1928 and was commissioned in the corps of engineers. He later earned a civil engineering degree from the University of California.

His assignments included duty in the Philippines, at the Michigan College of Mining and Technology and at Wright Field prior to World War II.

He was stationed at Fort Belvoir in 1941-43 and was then chairman of the War Department Mapping Committee in Washington.

After three years of duty in China, Gen. Dau returned to Washington and transferred to the Air Force as assistant comptroller for plans and international affairs. He held that job until going to Air Materiel Command headquarters in 1952.

Gen. Dau held the Distinquished Service Medal and Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster. He was a member of Phi Kappa Phi, an honorary scholastic society.

He is survived by his wife, the former Helen Singer, of Williamsburg; a daughter, Mrs. Thomas J. Fannon, of Alexandria; a stepdaughter, Mrs. W. Jeff Woodell, of Fort Smith, Ark.; a stepson, John Kenton Hester III, of Fresno, two sisters, Mrs. Holger Dau, of Svendoborg, Denmark, and Mrs. Philip Gordon, of Fresno, and five grandchildren.