Frederic H. Chaffee, 79, a retired Army colonel who served on the faculties of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and Stanford University, died of leukemia April 7 at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Col. Chaffee served 34 years in the Army before retiring in 1959. After retiring, he worked at the Special Operations Research Office of American University from 1962 to 1968.

Born in Faribault, Minn., Col. Chaffee graduated from West Point in 1929 and received a master's degree in physics from the University of Pennsylvania. He taught physics at West Point from 1938 to 1942.

During World War II he was an operations officer with the War Department in Washington and an operations and training officer in the Pacific. Later he served in Europe, then spent three years as a professor of military science at Stanford before he retired.

His military decorations included four Legions of Merit.

A resident of Chevy Chase who had lived in the Washington area since retiring from the Army, Col. Chaffee was an enthusiastic golfer and a member of Lakewood Country Club. He also was a member of Blessed Sacrament Church and was active in the Society of St. Vincent DePaul.

His wife, Winnifred Waddell Chaffee, died in 1981. Survivors include a daughter, Fanchon C. Gerstenberg of Clarksburg, Md.; a son, Dr. F.H. Chaffee Jr. of Tucson, Ariz.; a sister, Fanchon M. Chaffee of New York City, and two grandsons.