WILMINGTON — Dr. William “Bill” Kincaid recalls a half century ago landing an interview at Wilmington College, which was searching for a faculty member to teach mathematics to future teachers. WC was the first of three interviews he lined up as he ventured north from Oklahoma.
In retrospect, Wilmington College had him at “hello.”
“They were very positive toward me and I really felt confident I got the job, so I told the other schools I was not interested,” said Kincaid, a Warren, Ohio, native who came to Wilmington with several years of high school teaching experience and a new Master of Natural Science degree from the University of Oklahoma. He also had a Bachelor of Science degree from Youngstown State and went on to earn his Doctor of Educational Psychology in 1976 from the University of Cincinnati.
“It was the atmosphere when I interviewed here,” he said about what so impressed him. “Also, we were young and willing to gamble.”
Undoubtedly, that gamble has paid off, as the professor of mathematics is in the midst of his 50th year as a faculty member. Archival research indicates that, in the College’s 149 years of existence — no one else has taught that long on a full-time basis.
Music professor Robert J. Haskins and “Teacher” Ellen Wright, a member of WC’s first graduating class in 1875, who went on to instruct Latin, Greek and English composition, come closest at 46 years. Oscar Boyd taught for 52 years but his final decade was part time while faculty member/administrator/coach Fred Raizk retired after 53 years, but his twilight era was as a part-time golf coach.
“Mathematics doesn’t change quickly, so, once you get it down, you’re working on your teaching technique the rest of the time,” he said, adding that something else about the discipline endures as a significant component of higher education.
“Mathematics promotes rational thinking and problem-solving techniques, which carry over into other areas,” he added. “How do you approach any problem? You should do so systematically.”
Kincaid, Penny — his wife of now 55 years — and their first two children arrived together in Ohio, and three more children joined them during their initial three years at WC when they lived on the Stuckey Farm near Sabina. They subsequently purchased a farm of their own outside New Vienna that better accommodated their growing family. Two of their children, who have a Korean background, were adopted.
The adoption process first exposed them to foster care. Indeed, the couple welcomed 15 foster children into their home, for stays ranging from a weekend to 17 months, between 1984 and 2002.
“We enjoy children, including all the challenges,” he said.
Indeed, the Kincaids ran New Vienna’s summer youth softball and baseball programs for many years. Penny taught for nearly three decades in the East Clinton School District and he served for 23 years on the Clinton County Board of Education.
Kincaid recalled earning a Fulbright Fellowship in 1992 for which he taught at two colleges in Reykjavik, Iceland. “We took the kids and they loved it,” he said. “They learned the language and had a very good experience.”
He also spent a yearlong faculty sabbatical in Arizona, where he taught at Diné College in the Navajo Nation. The couple spent parts of five summers tutoring Navajo students.
In addition to being a stalwart faculty member at the main campus, Kincaid also taught for several years at WC’s Cincinnati Branch and instructed 62 sections of algebra at Lebanon Correctional Institution as part of the College’s highly acclaimed former prison program.
Kincaid was an avid runner in his younger years and even competed in the Boston Marathon in 1970 (778th place), so he possessed significant credibility when he started the College’s cross country program in 1972. Athletic Director Bill Ramseyer asked him in 1974 to also take over the track and field program. He coached either or both of the sports for 13 seasons.
It was during that first track season he picked up the nickname, “Chet.” Bill Cosby played a coach/physical education teacher at an inner-city, Los Angeles high school in NBC’s The Bill Cosby Show, which ran for two seasons starting in 1969-70. Cosby’s character’s name was Chet Kincaid.
“Having a son named Bill, I even started calling myself Chet,” he added, noting he remains Chet to his generation of student-athletes from the 1970s/early ‘80s.
As Kincaid looks back upon a half century at the College, he expressed an appreciation for the quality of his mathematics colleagues, both professionally and personally. “We complemented each other from the start, and that continues to the present day,” he said.
Don Muchmore (Class of 1973) was his “first outstanding student” and today is a colleague in the Math Department.
Kincaid recalled that, when he started in fall 1969, faculty members whose careers at the College started in the 1920s were still teaching. Also, Twin Ash Hall was a dormitory, Becky Heiland Haines and Elizabeth Brookie Haskins were freshmen and Michael Snarr was in the first grade. Today, the long-ago razed Twin Ash is a mere memory, Haskins retired after decades on the music faculty, Haines has served in the fine arts area since 1973 and Snarr is a professor of political science.
He fondly recalls “Subway Thursdays” when, for many years, he and faculty colleagues Philip Bayless, Proctor Dean, William Guthrie and Fred Raizk met regularly for lunch. Sadly, Kincaid and Dean are the lone survivors.
The notion of his pending retirement “hasn’t sunk in yet” with his final semester in the offing, yet, he has given some thought to life after full-time teaching.
Kincaid expects he and Penny will travel, visiting new locales and long-enjoyed ones like the remote area in Ontario where he’s fished many summers for Walleye, Northern Pike and Small Mouth Bass.
“I like to fish but I’m not going fishing 50 weeks a year,” he joked.
Kincaid is committed to returning to a regular physical fitness regimen, plus his family now includes seven grandchildren and a great-grandchild. He expects to continue his longtime interest in following Wilmington College sports — students voted him Fan-of-the-Year several years ago.
Since 2010, Kincaid has embraced the honor of carrying the ceremonial mace in leading the procession of graduates as they traverse the campus en route to the Commencement ceremony.
He’s witnessed three of his children — Bill ’86, Jeanne ’93 and Sonja ’11 — graduate from the College (Jesse, Russell and Nathan attended other schools).
“I have two granddaughters graduating this year,” he said, noting he expects a flood of 50 years of memories to pour over him as he performs his final formal act as the senior member of the faculty in leading his WC peers and the Class of ‘19 into Hermann Court.
“I’ll probably get a little emotional.”