R.T. Kingman, 61, the director of the General Motors public relations staff in Washington until he went on leave earlier this year, died of cancer April 10 at Georgetown University Hospital.

Mr. Kingman, who lived in Washington, was a member of Sigma Delta Chi, the professional journalism society, and the national planning chairman of its "Project Watchdog," the purpose of which is to heighten public awareness of the First Amendment of the Constitution.

He also was a member of the board and the executive committee of the National Press Foundation, the public relations advisory committee of the U.S. Information Agency and the board of trustees of the William Allen White Foundation. He was a member of the Public Relations Society of America.

A native of Kansas City, Kan., Mr. Kingman graduated from the University of Kansas. During World War II, he served in the Navy in the Atlantic and the Pacific and he was recalled to active duty during the Korean War.

He was a newspaperman in Kansas and Missouri and a free-lance writer until 1957, when he joined the General Motors public relations staff in Flint, Mich. In 1969, he moved to Detroit as manager of the corporation's public affairs section. He was named assistant director of corporate communications in 1972.

In 1979, Mr. Kingman moved to Washington as director of the local GM public relations office.

Survivors include his wife, Jeanne, of Washington; three children, Barbara Chesney of Ann Arbor, Mich., Susan Kammerer of Portola Valley, Calif., and Kirk Kingman of Royal Oak, Mich., and five grandchildren.