Lake Highlands High School graduate Oscar Kincheloe died Monday after a breakthrough case of COVID-19. The 33-year-old entered the hospital Sept. 9 and was put on a ventilator two weeks later.

Before he graduated in 2006, Kincheloe delighted neighborhood audiences. He sang with the LHHS pop choir Espree, acted in plays for LHHS Theatre and starred in musicals for Lake Highlands United Methodist Church’s Artists of Christian Talent (ACT) program. His success on the stage led him to pursue a degree in Oklahoma City University’s acclaimed theatre department.

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Oscar was president of OCU’s theatre fraternity, and he was featured in productions such as Neil Simon’s Biloxi Blues, but he was most happy when preparing children to perform on stage or performing for them. Kincheloe had been working as a director and instructor at Lifesong Studio in Grapevine when he became ill, and he formerly worked as a teacher at Drama Kids.

“I’m heartbroken to hear of the passing of this amazing teacher and director,” wrote Drama Kids director Tricia Foster on Facebook. “Oscar worked for me as a DK teacher for many years and made a difference in the lives of so many children. Even after his time with DK he continued on with his passion to make a difference teaching kids and directing them in shows. He was kind to everyone, and I can still hear his booming laugh. He was a gentle giant if I ever knew one and his students adored him.”

Kincheloe was vaccinated but caught COVID over the summer and again in September. He was 6’ 6” and suffered from Type II diabetes.

Tiffany Tennison’s children took acting lessons from Kincheloe, and she’d been following his progress closely.

“He is putting up a big fight,” she wrote on social media Saturday, “but this virus is nasty and is impacting a man that my kids and so many other kids have come to love, admire and learn so much from, not just the skills of theater, but how to BE joy, to BE love, to BE accountable and to BE a team mate. He is their coach…and kids are his team. He stands taller in the room than anyone but is always there to support and develop even the smallest ones.”

“When Oscar was in the audience of your show, you always knew it by his contagious laughter,” wrote Marisa Lerman. “He brought joy everywhere he went, and it was my privilege to have performed with him and worked with him behind the scenes at OCU. I am heartbroken by the loss of this kind man, and the world is a little darker today now that he is gone.”

Susan Hagemeier remembers seeing a boost in her son’s confidence level when he earned the rank of Eagle Scout as a member of LH’s Troop 890. Steve Kincheloe says his boy was “always encouraging people and rarely criticizing anybody, and if he did critique somebody it was always with gentleness and respect.”

“Oscar worked hard on many merit badges and enthusiastically participated in many weekend campouts in all kinds of climatic conditions,” Steve wrote on Caring Bridge. “His service project was leading a platoon of younger scouts to collect winter coats in Lake Highlands to give to a coat closet catering to the homeless. He loved camping more than anything else in the BSA.”

“Oscar, one of the greatest blessings in our life along with our daughter Hope, lived a quite extraordinary life in a very short period of time,” continued Steve. “He packed in more activities and influenced more people directly and indirectly in his short life than most people who live to be quite old.”

Memorial services are pending.