Feature: Kirby Ingles
Updated: Dec 15, 2019
Kirby Ingles is a person for which life has taught many firsthand lessons; several of which had to be learned through hardship, pain, and grief. Moreover, he is someone who’s learned to take those difficult experiences, extract the teachable moments, refine them, then distribute them as messages of personal victories.
Within the foundation of his message resides a personal thread of himself that has made its way to the forefront of his mission. To inspire men, “fatherless” men, to improve the world around them by becoming mentors and leaders in their own communities. And of course, to understand why that is so important to Kirby, one must first be made aware of some of the experiences he has been through.
As a kid, Kirby was not exempt to the experience of divorced parents, and mixed families. His mother’s first marriage ended in divorce when Kirby was in the fourth grade. In a shocking turn, however, at the same time he would learn of his parents upcoming separation, he would also find out that the man he had been referring to as “Dad,” was, in fact, not his biological father. He came to understand that when his parents were married, Kirby was around three years old, and that Paul, his stepfather, adopted Kirby as his own. That is why Kirby carried Paul’s last name of Grider. Unfortunately, as it would turn out, Paul would spend significantly more time in drinking establishments than at home, ending his marriage.
Mom would remarry a couple years later, but Kirby would find himself having to adjust to significantly lower quality of life. A blended family living in a one-bedroom home left little in the way of privacy, or elbow room for that matter.
Somewhere in that period, too, is when
Kirby would begin to experiment in drug and alcohol abuse.
Surprisingly, he was rather open about his drug use and recited a list of stimulants that ranged from prescription drugs to narcotics. And as these stories usually trend, close calls in the party scene, and the passing of a close friend would influence Kirby to make the choice to get clean.
By now, Kirby is 16 years old, and, already, finds himself at the proverbial “fork in the road” moment in his life. To continue his life as it is, and seemingly go nowhere, or he could choose a lifestyle in which he’s certain he could have a chance at a stable future. It takes him a year to decide, but he goes with what he thinks makes the most sense. So, in 1996, Kirby Grider joins the Army.
In the Army, Kirby learns about discipline, teamwork, mentorship, and leadership. He plays a role in the success of several units at home, abroad, and deployed. He’s exposed to the best
the country has to offer in character and integrity, at the moments when such qualities are on full display. Kirby comes to know what it means to be the “tip of the spear,” but also how it
feels to lose a friend who sacrifices their own life to save the lives of others.
While on active duty, Kirby would get married, but unfortunately the strain of military life would prove too much. After a few years, he would find himself in somewhat familiar surroundings, except it would be his own divorce that he would have to contend with. In truth, his divorce would bring about even more contention than Kirby ever expected.
In 2012, and in the middle of negotiating his divorce, then Kirby Grider would be reassigned to Washington D.C. In doing so, he charged his lawyers to look up his own birth records and adoption papers. As it turned out, what he learned was that no such adoption papers existed. Apparently, the information he received as a child about his adoption by his first stepfather, Paul, was inaccurate.
Naturally, this brought about many questions, and he asked his mother to explain to him again the circumstances behind his name change. His answer came in the form of a letter he received the following year which explained, first, that his parents had changed his name to Grider to match that of his other siblings, but also, the letter contained the story and the circumstances behind how Kirby came to be born in the first place.
Kirby’s mother, Linda, explained that her parents were a middle-class family that had fallen on hard times in the late 50s, early 60s, and that around that same time she was coming into her own as a rambunctious teenager. She was outgoing and enjoyed having a good time, and that much of her behavior did not exactly line up with the strict conservative family ideals held at home. It mattered little, though, because Linda would continue to enjoy exploring the power and beauty of her youth.
One night at a party, while heavily intoxicated, Linda would be sexually assaulted. The evidence of which would not be confirmed until a few weeks later, when she learned that her assault had resulted in a pregnancy. Kirby would be born shortly after that. In telling this story to Kirby, she revealed to him for the first time, that Kirby’s biological father’s identity was a mystery. She did not know.
When he finished his mother’s letter, Kirby found himself bawling like a child. He felt lost and misplaced, as if his own identity had been an illusion. He began to search his memories for clues of substance. Something he could hold onto that he could categorize as genuine. And as luck would have it, he found it in his own grandfather, Dean.
Kirby’s grandfather, John Wesley Udean Ingles, or “Dean” as most knew him, was his Superman. Many of the standards and values Kirby holds himself to today, he attributes to the love and guidance of his “Grandpa Dean.” He taught Kirby the essentials of hunting, hard work, raising animals, and being accountable. Grandpa Dean made it a point to be present at family events and sporting events alike.
Most of all, Kirby says, “he taught me how to love my family.” Dean was there the moment Kirby was born, so they were together when Kirby entered the world, and as fate would have it, they would be together when Dean would depart.
Military promotion ceremonies are just as much a family affair as they are an opportunity to recognize the individual being promoted. As a Navy veteran himself, Grandpa Dean recognized that Kirby’s promotion to Sergeant First Class was a significant accomplishment, and he wanted to be there to witness the ceremony for himself. On the morning of the ceremony, however, Kirby would receive a call from his mother that his grandfather would not wake up, and he quickly made his way to where they were staying on-base. Upon entering the room where his Grandpa Dean was resting, he realized immediately that his grandfather, his hero, had passed away in his sleep.
In 2013, after finalizing his divorce and mourning his hero, Kirby made the decision to legally return his last name to Ingles. Sometime later, and with a seemingly new identity, now Kirby Ingles discovered a new passion. A mission, if you will.
Kirby was called to reflect on his life’s journey. He felt driven to make sense of the highs and lows of his experiences and was determined to turn them into something worthwhile. With his skills as a servicemember and, at this point, owner of a master’s degree in counseling, he knew he had something to offer the world to make it better. And then it came to him…
He would utilize his knowledge and experience to inspire and motivate fatherless men to become mentors in their communities; to inspire others in setting a foundation for a better and brighter tomorrow. In his research, and in his opinion, there are a significant number of men in our country who, just like he was, are lost and need direction. Kirby believes, that there is an epidemic, so to speak, of fatherless sons that plague the nation, but Kirby also believes, that there is hope for the futures of these boys and eventual men.
It is Kirby’s belief that his coaching and mentorship programs will create a potential in the men he trains and that their impact will be felt in the future generations of their own families, neighborhoods, and the country as a whole.
For Kirby Ingles, life has been a series of ups and downs. He would be the first to tell you that he’s made some bad choices, but he would also tell you he’s made some good ones, as well. Whether one would consider him lucky, or not, is another story altogether.
What is true, however, is that he has been through a lot. Personally, and professionally. He knows what it means to live fast and lose a lot. But he is also someone who has neither allowed his mistakes to define him, nor his circumstances bind him.
For Myself, I came by Kirby Ingles somewhat by accident, but I’m glad I did. He tagged a video of his with, #fatherless, and it caught my attention. So, I asked him about it. And I’m glad I did.
It proved to me, once again, that everyone has a story, that there are really good people in this world, and they are everywhere.
Kirby Ingles is one of those people.