Woodbury Megrew Burgess, 74, a retired Air Force brigadier general who began his career in the horse cavalry, became an intelligence officer during World War II and retired as a deputy director of the National Security Agency, died of congestive heart failure Tuesday in a hospital in Tucson, Ariz.

Gen. Burgess joined the old Army Air Corps Headquarters in December 1941 as an executive in the Office of the Assistant Chief of Air Staff for Intelligence. Later in the war, he was an intelligence officer with the 20th Bomber Command in the Asiatic-Pacific Theater.

In August 1947, he was named assistant director of the intelligence division of the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk. During the early 1950s, he held staff assignments in Washington and Colorado, and in 1954 became deputy chief of staff for intelligence of the Continental Air Defense Command.

From 1955 until he retired from active duty in 1957, he was deputy director for production of the National Security Agency.

For the next 14 years, Gen. Burgess was an executive with the Atlantic Research Corporation in Washington. He retired of Bethesda, Falls Church, and Vienna, he had made his home in Green Valley, Ariz., since 1978.

His decorations included the Legion of Merit and the Bronze Star Medal.

Gen. Burgess was a native of Newton Falls, Mass., and a 1927 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy. His assignments before World War II included cavalry service in the Philippines and a tour as a mathematetics instructor at West Point.

His hobbies as a young man included polo. Later, he took up needlework and some of his work has been exhibited at West Point and at shows in this area.

His first wife, the former Marianna Floyd, to whom he was married for 28 years, died in 1956.

Survivors include his wife, the former Geneva Daniel of Green Valley, Ariz.; four children by his first marriage, George, of Falls Church, and Woodbury M., of Garland, Tex., Mary Elizabeth Maxwell-Clark of Oakland, Calif., and Marianna Rowe of Sikeston, Mo.; a sister, Louise Burgess of Milwaukee, and 13 grandchildren.