Allen Barnabei, 73, a retired chief of the Office of Radio Frequency Management in the Commerce Department and a colonel in the Air Force Reserve, died of a heart ailment Jan. 29 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Col. Barnabei, who lived in Silver Spring, was born in Cedar Point, Ill. From 1926 to 1930, he served in the Navy, where he graduated from the radio school in San Diego, Calif. He then became a radio operator for the Commerce Department in Utah, Oklahoma and Texas.

During World War II, he was commissioned in the Army Air Forces and was in charge of communciations training at Randolph Field. He stayed in the Air Force Reserve and retired in 1964 as a colonel.

In 1947, Col. Barnabei moved to the Washington area to continue his career at Commerce. Except for a brief period when he was assigned to the Federal Aviation Administration, he was the chief U.S. representative or alternate to numerous international conferences on communications and radio frequency allocation. He retired in 1971.

Col. Barnabei received the Silver Medal from the Commerce Department, the meritorious service award from the Society of Airway Pioneers and the Marconi Memorial Scroll of Honor from the Veteran Wireless Operators Association.

He was a member of the Retired Officers Association, American Legion Post 45, the Society of Airway Pioneers and the Ancient Order of Quiet Birdmen.

Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth Flagler Barnabei, and a daughter, Gloria Ruth MacKenzie, both of Silver Spring; a brother, Frank, of Roundup, Mont., and three grandsons.