Frank E. Dow, 73, a retired Agriculture Department official who was active in church organizations, died of congestive heart failure Saturday at his home in Alexandria.

Mr. Dow began his career in the Agriculture Department with the Commodity Credit Corporation before World War II. After serving with the Navy during the war, he joined the Department's Agriculture Research Service. He was finance director of the Service when he retired in 1970.

He has been a member of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Alexandria for the past 36 years and served as a church trustee and elder. He had been a supporter of the Alexandria High School crew team and was a past-president of the Alexandria Symphony Association.

Mr. Dow was a native of Sedalia, Mo., and had lived in Alexandria for the past 36 years. He was a graduate of Drury College in Springfield, Mo., and earned a master's degree in business administration at New York University.

For the past 10 years he had been an independent tax consultant.

Survivors include his wife, Sophia, of Alexandria; a son, Peter, of San Francisco; two daughters, Ellen Kahler of Cortland, N.Y., and Jane M. Dow of Washington; two brothers, Lee, of Sedalia, and Riecke, of Lake of the Ozarks, Mo.; a sister, Ella McVean of Memphis, Tenn., and two grandchildren.