In Debut Book, a Son Honors 'Perfectly Imperfect Dad'

Jun 7, 2017

E. Leon Kincaid at nineteen, shortly before he became a father. As his son, Paul, notes in the book, Leon had a response ready whenever someone showed shock at the number of boys he had: "We had five sons and then we found out what caused that and stopped."
Credit Submitted by Paul Kincaid

Paul Kincaid was one of five rough-rousing, baseball hurling boys raised by the man memorialized in the book, E. Leon: A Perfectly Imperfect Dad.

E. Leon Kincaid was a traveling salesman who had grown up dirt poor during the Great Depression and raised his boys while also caring for his wife after her debilitating car accident.

Leon raised five sons in a Kansas City suburb, determined to not make the same mistakes his own father had made.

Paul Kincaid put it this way in a eulogy to his late father:

He was Pete Rose before Pete Rose, sliding head first running over the catcher blocking home plate. And that was in a church softball game.

“I always am looking for good stories and came to realize that this was a good story. And I thought people would identify with it—and maybe enjoy it,” Kincaid said.

Leon was known for using humor to get him through life’s toughest times.

For example, he sent an email to his five sons in advance of his major heart surgery.  Doctors had given him the option of having a replacement heart valve either made from part of a pig or from synthetic material. In the email, he wrote he was considering the pig valve--but had the following questions: 

1. After the operation, will my speech be in English or Pig Latin?

2. Will PETA demonstrate against me for animal cruelty?

3. After the operation, will eating pork constitute cannibalism?

4. Will my Jewish friends shun me because I am part pork?

5.  Will I be allergic to pork chops and baby back ribs? How about bacon? Sausage?

6.  Will “oink” be a large part of my vocabulary?

"You know, we all like to think we're different than our parents. But going through this process, I realized a lot of his humor, a lot of the way he looks at things, his optimism, just the way he handles himself, the things he believes in--they translated to my brothers and me," Paul Kincaid said in an interview with KSMU.

The main character comes to life through story after story, told through the eyes of an adult son looking back with hindsight. 

Leon Kincaid was a competitive and capable salesman, which from time to time attracted jealousy from coworkers. The book details one instance where Leon discovered after returning from a trip that his coworker had been opening his mail and submitting Leon's orders as his own in order to get the commission.

Dad was furious and confronted Mr. Ransom about it. Actually, it sounds like Dad did most of the talking while Mr. Ransom listened, backed up against the wall, suspended several inches off the floor by the front of his shirt, courtesy of Dad.

One of the stories involves Leon encouraging his sons to be more confident with girls, to ask for dates, and not to be discouraged if every date wasn't a success. In one excerpt, Paul Kincaid writes:

One of the nicest things Dad every did for my brothers and me was to take us on "dry runs" of driving routes for dates. Remember, this was around the time GPS was invented in the mid-1970s, but long before it was first available in cars in about 1990...I am not sure how many dads would do that, but I would imagine it isn't many.

Of course, another way to look at it is that he thought we needed all the help we could get. He was right about that. 

The book includes a chapter on saying goodbye to a parent, a section in which Paul Kincaid details the end of life decisions and conversations that surround such a parting.

E. Leon Kincaid, right, with friend and mutual salesman Bob Cain at Kincaid's house in 1969 during one of Cain's visits to Kansas City.
Credit Submitted by Paul Kincaid

Leon had communicated his wishes that when his time came to an end, he wanted to be cremated and have his ashes to be spread over a baseball field. A solid Kansas City Royals fan, Leon had played, coached, and watched baseball his entire life.

"Baseball was a big part of our life. We spend hours and hours, and days and days, and months and months together. That was kind of a common denominator," Paul Kincaid said. 

The family still has friends and nephews that play at that baseball complex, Kincaid said.

The book can be found through Kincaid’s website, www.KincaidCommunications.com, as well as booksellers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble online, and Apple iBooks.