FARMVILLE -- Former WVEC news anchor Jim Kincaid died Sunday at his home in Farmville. Family members say the 76-year-old suffered a heart attack.
Kincaid, a native of Arkansas, started his career working in newspaper and radio news before ending up as a correspondent for ABC News, covering such stories as the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance.
While covering the civil rights movement, Kincaid was attacked by members of the Ku Klux Klan.
"They thumped me pretty good," said Kincaid. So you were beaten about with your credentials. Oh, many times."
In 1978, he left the network and moved to a farm in central Virginia. At the suggestion of then-State Senator Hunter Andrews, Kincaid met with WVEC's former owner Tom Chisman, who hired him as the station's main anchor.
Kincaid first signed on in October of that year, anchoring the evening news for the next 18 years.
Kincaid became an icon in Hampton Roads media, and was also known for closing WVEC newscasts with a personal thought. A collection of his thoughts were compiled into a book entitled Notes To My Friends.
Kincaid also wrote award-winning documentary programs for WVEC, including a program shot in Vietnam in 1994 which examined social and economic changes in Vietnam and the country's improving relations with the United States.
For the program "Jim Kincaid Reports: Return to Vietnam," Jim reunited Thao Nguyen of Norfolk with her mother in Ho Chi Minh City.
The family had not seen each other since Thao fled the country in the early 70's by boat following the fall of South Vietnam.
Jim also took Hampton Roads viewers back to several locations in Vietnam where he'd covered stories for ABCNews in the 60's, including his former residence in Saigon at the Caravelle Hotel, the Mekong River, the Cu Chi tunnels, and Nui Ba Den Mountain.
While working in Vietnam for ABC, Jim was in a helicopter that was shot down by enemy fire near Bu Dop.
Jim suffered a broken back in the crash and spent over a year recovering in Hong Kong. In later years, Kincaid did yoga exercises daily to ease his lingering back pain.
In 1995, Jim wrote a program called "Jim Kincaid Reports: D-Day to VE-Day" which took three Hampton Roads veterans of the D-Day invasion on an emotional trip back to Omaha Beach, site of the longest day of their lives some 51 years earlier.
Former co-workers, including many still working at WVEC, say Jim always had a story.
"I had the privilege of traveling to Asia and Europe with Jim in the mid-90's, and it seemed like everywhere we went, he had a story to tell," said Pete McElveen, WVEC director of digital media. "Either he'd been there before or he knew some sort of historical aside, and I used to joke that he was the world's most overqualified tour guide."
"You always took time to hear Jim's stories, because they were only stories you read about in books, but Jim actually lived these experiences," added WVEC anchor Sandra Parker.
Kincaid always kept his co-workers guessing.
"There was always a punchline coming and the challenge was to see if you could find it before Kincaid delivered it. Most of the time, he beat me to the draw," recalled WVEC military reporter Mike Gooding.
Following his retirement from TV, Kincaid moved to his farm in Elam, Virginia with his wife, Catherine.
In 2006, they moved to a neighborhood near Longwood University in Farmville.
Even after his retirement, Kincaid still traveled to the WVEC studios to record commercials for local businesses.
Said Jim's wife Catherine, "He had style. Everybody loved him. That's comfort for me. I love him very much, he was my buddy."
A private memorial service is set for later this week.
His family asks that, instead of flowers, any memorial contributions be sent to the Southside SPCA, PO Box 66, Meherrin, VA 23954.
In addition to his beloved Irish Setter Murphy, many of the dogs that lived with the Kincaids at Elam were rescue dogs.
WVEC offers our sincere condolences to the Kincaid family during this time.
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