Dr. S. Ross Taggart 79, a physician who was chief of the old D.C. Health Department's division of preventable and chronic diseases for 29 years until he retired in 1959, died of a cardiac arrest Aug. 2 at Suburban Hospital. He lived in Washington.

Dr. Taggart was a native of Chambers, Neb. He earned his bachelor's degree and his medical degree at the University of Nebraska. He commanded an Army medical batallion in Europe during World War II. His decorations include the Bronze Star medal.

He moved to Washington in 1930 when he joined the D.C. Health Department. He operated a private practice in Washington from 1930 until 1941. He was a professor at George Washington University and Georgetown Medical Schools during the 1950s and 1960s.

Dr. Taggart was a past president of the American Venereal Disease Association and a member of the D.C. Medical Society, the Louis Mackall Medical Society and the National Guard Association. He was a former chairman of the board of governors and member of the executive committee of the Kenwood Golf & Country Club in Bethesda.

Survivors include his wife, Donna Gustin Taggart of Washington; a daughter, Pamela T. Stutz of Waterford, Va., and two granddaughters.