Ralph B. Kennard, 87, professor emeritus in physics at American University and a former physicist with the Bureau of Standards and the Central Intelligence Agency, died Nov. 5 in Mission Viejo, Calif. He suffered from chronic heart disease.

In 1930, after nine years of teaching physics in China and Turkey, Dr. Kennard came here to the Bureau of Standards on a two-year fellowship.

He then headed the physics department of Wilson Teachers College here from 1932 until 1941, when he returned to the Bureau of Standards. During World War II, he worked as a physicist with the Bureau's aeronautical instruments section.

After the war, Dr. Kennard taught physics at the war college at the American University in Biarritz, France. He also worked for the U.S. Naval Ordance Laboratory and as an Air Force intelligence specialist. He was at the CIA from 1950 to 1958, when he joined the Department of Physics at American University. He retired around 1966 as professor emeritus.

Dr. Kennard was a native of New York City. He served in World War I and then earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Columbia University and a docterate from the University of Chicago.

From 1930 until 1977, when he moved to Laguna Hills, Calif, Dr. Kennard was a member of the Calvary Baptis Church in Washington, which was founded by his grandfather, the Rev. Joseph Hugg Kennard, after the Civil War. He also was a member of the Chevy Chase Baptist Church.

Survivors include two daughters, Margaret (Peggy) Jenkins, of Darien, Conn, and Frances K. Wolf, of La Jolla, Calif, a sister, Elaine Geiger, of Lansdowne, Pa, a brother, Dr. J. Spencer Kennard, of Kendall Park, N.J., and seven grandchilden and one great-grandchild.