Frank B. Wade Sr., 72, a La Plata businessman who was the unsuccessful Republican candidate for lieutenant governor of Maryland in 1974, died of cancer June 19 at Physicians Memorial Hospital in La Plata.

From shortly after World War II until the late 1970s, Mr. Wade owned and operated a La Plata Ford-Mercury dealership, Frank Wade Ford. He was also part owner and manager of the Howard Johnson Restaurant and Motor Lodge in La Plata for 25 years, beginning in 1952, and during the 1960s he was part owner of a truck stop on Rte. 301 in La Plata.

He had been a farmer in the Port Tobacco area and in the late 1950s and early 1960s was president and publisher of the Maryland Independent, a weekly newspaper in La Plata.

A resident of White Plains, Mr. Wade was born in Port Tobacco. He graduated from La Plata High School and Western Maryland College. During World War II he served in the Army and participated in the Allied landings in North Africa, Sicily and Normandy. His decorations included a Silver Star, two Bronze Stars and the Combat Infantryman's Badge. After the war he remained in the Army Reserves and retired as a lieutenant colonel in 1954.

Mr. Wade was a former president of the Charles County Board of Election Supervisors, and he served for six years in the 1950s as president of the county school board. He was a member of the Republican State Central Committee, a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1968 and was the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor on the ticket headed by Louise Gore that lost to Marvin Mandel and Blair Lee III in Maryland's 1974 gubernatorial election.

Mr. Wade was a former national president of the 9th Infantry Division Association, president of the La Plata Lions Club, a charter member of the Charles County Rotary Club and a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion, the Elks and the La Plata United Methodist Church building committee.

Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth Wine Wade of White Plains; a son, Frank B. Jr., of Port Tobacco; two daughters, Elizabeth Wade Lionberger of Stone Mountain, Ga., and Patti Wade Allen of Columbus, Ohio; a sister, Margaret Wade Compton of Port Tobacco, and six grandchildren.