Theodore B. Godfrey, 79, a retired government physicist who had worked for the National Bureau of Standards and the Harry Diamond Laboratory, died of congestive heart failure Jan. 15 at his home in Bethesda.

Mr. Godfrey was a native of Waukegan, Ill. He was a 1928 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, where he earned a bachelor's degree in physics and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

He was a physicist at the NBS from 1928 to 1953. He then joined the Harry Diamond Laboratory, where he was a section and branch chief and staff consultant before retiring in 1968. He also had served as chairman of the laboratory's editorial committee.

Mr. Godfrey received awards from both the Army and Navy in the mid-1940s for his work in ordnance development.

He was a fellow of the Washington Academy of Science and a member of the American Physical Society.

Survivors include his wife, the former Harriet King, of Bethesda; three sons, Thomas N.K., of Los Alamos, N.M., Jamie E., of Baltimore, and Theodore J., of Reisterstown, Md.; a sister, Helen G. Wahl, of Chicago, and seven grandchildren.

The family suggests that expressions of sympathy be in the form of contributions to the American Heart Association.