David B. Sanford, who retired in 1998 as special assistant for intelligence policy in the office of the secretary of defense, died June 10 at Inova Fairfax Hospital. He was 74.

The cause was a heart attack, said his daughter, Lynn D. Cary.

Mr. Sanford came to the Washington area in 1966 and joined the Defense Intelligence Agency. He was special assistant for emergency powers from 1985 to 1987, when he began working in the office of the secretary of defense.

David Burns Sanford was born in Oklahoma City. He graduated from Texas A&I University in 1962 and received a master’s degree in political science from Georgetown University in 1980. He also had studied at the National War College. From 1962 to 1966, he served in the Air Force.

His DIA honors included the Director’s Award and a civilian service award.

Mr. Sanford was a former president of the Villa Lee Community Association in Fairfax County, where he lived until moving to Sachse, Tex., in 2000. He had returned to this area to care for his ill daughter when he had a heart attack.

His first marriage, to Sonja Sue Sanford, ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife of 43 years, Elise R. Giuseppe Sanford of Sachse, Tex.; a daughter from his second marriage, Lynn D. Cary of Burke; two sisters; and a brother.

— Bart Barnes