Richard Barnes Kennan, 82, a retired executive secretary of the National Education Association's professional rights and responsibilities commission, died Nov. 10 at Peninsula General Hospital in Salisbury, Md., of pneumonia and a stroke.

Dr. Kennan joined the NEA staff in 1944 and became executive secretary of its defense commission in 1946. That body later became the professional rights and responsibilities commission. As executive director, Dr. Kennan conducted investigations throughout the nation into matters involving teacher rights, tenure, responsibilities and ethics. He retired from the NEA in 1968.

He was born in Fitchburg, Mass., and received bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at Columbia University. He was a schoolteacher and administrator in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Jersey, a faculty member at the University of Vermont, and secretary of the Maine Teachers Association before joining the NEA.

A resident of Chevy Chase from 1945 until moving to Salisbury in April, Dr. Kennan was a former president of the National Association of Executive Secretaries of State Teachers Associations, the Horace Mann League, the NEA Staff Organization, the Merry Macs of Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church and the Fossils, an association of retired men. He also was chairman of the education committee and a member of the national executive committee of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

His wife of 55 years, Wilyjon, died in May. He is survived by two sons, Dr. Richard B. Jr. and Dr. Dana E.M., both of Salisbury; a brother, Dana W., of Hampton, Conn., and seven grandchildren.