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Richard Basham, classic car enthusiast and community leader


Richard Basham, of Hawesville, has been finding cars and fixing them up, for many years now. His specialty, he says, “is to find a car that has been sitting for a long time and get it running again.” Experience with it has “slowly grown,” as time has gone by.
   He has always loved sports cars, and while attending University of Kentucky.

Bashman worked 3 summers and holidays at the Paper Mill in Hancock County, as a Summer Engineer. He was paying his way through college and he found a used Corvette for sale. He asked his father for a loan, so he could purchase it. But, was turned down.

A year went by, and he was one semester from graduating. He found another used Corvette. This time, one of his sisters and his father loaned him the money. It was a ’76 Corvette that he ended up keeping for 30 years. “It was the only ‘college debt’ I had and I was able to pay them both back,” he said.

He had several old Volvos, so when his sons, Ben, Ethan and Edward started driving, they all drove one. He told them, “If you screw it up, you get a crappier one to drive.” Ben drove the same car to high school that they brought him home from the hospital in.

His sons have also learned mechanics, by helping their dad. “It was a part of our life,” he said. They worked as a team to load up old cars and take them home to “resurrect” them.

The car that Ethan drove all through college, Richard had found on eBay for only $810. He and Edward flew to pick it up in Eastern Colorado one weekend, and it broke down on their way home, but they miraculously were able to make it home by

Sunday evening for church, he said.
   Richard is the Chairman of the Heritage Commission, and has worked along with Steve Canepari and others on many projects, such as building the steps going up to Jeffreys Cliffs, setting benches and pouring concrete. “It’s been a great project for Hancock County. It’s amazing how well it’s done,” he said.

He is also still involved in the Hancock County Industrial Foundation and is in his second term on the Kynergy Board of Directors. Growing up in a Co-Op family, this comes around full circle for Richard.

“I’m the Industrial guy on the Board. So, with my background, it fits real well. I visit the area for the whole region. I visit, periodically, all of the manufacturing facilities. I’ve really enjoyed it. The big project for us right now, is to be able to supply Broadband to all of our members.”

Richard is a 1977 graduate of Cloverport High School. He earned his degree in Civil Engineering in 1981 from U.K. and was offered a job in Engineering with the Paper Mill in 1982.

He and Karen Buck met at the Paper Mill, while they were working summer jobs during college. They both liked tennis and talked about getting together to play sometime. Karen asked Richard, after their initial conversation, “When are we going to play a game of tennis?” And, “the rest is history,” he said. They were married in 1985.

Karen is the daughter of Mary & Bill Buck, from Hancock County. She earned her Teaching Degree at Murray and retired this year, after many years of teaching.

Richard had bought a house in Cloverport and they lived there for six years. Their first son, Ethan, was born in 1989 and two years later, they moved to Hawesville.

They were blessed with two more children after moving to Hawesville – Edward and Ben. “Hancock County is home. We are blessed to have been here all these years,” he said. They also have felt so thankful to have family around.

The grandparents always helped them with their children, when they needed it; and, in turn, the children had a good relationship with their grandparents.
   The house that Richard & Karen bought when they moved to Hawesville, is still their home now.

They purchased eleven more acres that were attached to the land behind their house, and in 1993, he and his father planted 1,900 trees – mostly Walnut & White Oak. “He and I did it all,” Richard said.

They planted every one themselves. He loved doing the project with his dad and recently saw photos of right before planting the trees, when the land was barren, “and now it’s a forest.”
   “I am very blessed to have had the opportunity to work at the Paper Mill,” he said.

He switched over to management and was Production Manager at one of the facilities for his last 19 years there. “It was a great job. I didn’t aspire to leadership, but I have always been given leadership roles. I was able to make tough decisions, they weren’t always the right decisions, but I made them.”

He worked 32 ½ years, full-time and was able to accomplish his goal to retire at 55.
   A couple of years ago, he bought 40 more acres attached to their property. “Now, I’m working overtime with the property,” he said. There is a lot of work to be done, such as bush hogging, cleaning trees, etc. “It’s been a good project.”

As his sons progressed in school, they got involved in different sports and Richard helped coach. They took many vacations for summers and breaks. They traveled to the Caribbean and Europe several times, and took skiing trips to Colorado, the Northeast and B.C. “It was a blessing to travel with the boys,” he said.

When their sons started going to college, Karen and Richard have continued to travel. They have been to Peru, Portugal, Spain, England and France, to name a few. They recently went to visit Ethan and his wife in Hawaii and Ben and his wife in Washington State. And, they are looking forward to a trip to Scotland.

Richard and Karen co-teach Sunday School at Hawesville Baptist Church. They have both played leadership roles in their church for years. He has recently been helping build the shed for the Nativity Scene that they are having this year. “As far as I’m concerned, the Christian commitment is number one. It’s extremely important and a very big part of our lives,” he said.

Their oldest son, Ethan, is a 2008 graduate from HCHS. He graduated from U.K. and is a Certified Aviation Mechanic in the Coast Guard. He’s been in the Coast Guard for 7 years and recently married in 2019. He and his wife live in Hawaii.

Edward is a 2010 HCHS graduate. He earned his Bachelors Degree at University of Louisville. After working for awhile, he decided to return to U of L and is earning a second degree in Mechanical Engineering.

Ben is a 2013 graduate of HCHS. He attended the U.S. Airforce Academy, in Colorado Springs and went to Pilot School afterward. His wife is also a Pilot. They both fly a C-17 Globemaster Cargo Plane and live in Tacoma, Washington.

Richard says that it was a great decision to retire early. He’s been retired for seven years now, and it has given him the opportunity to serve in the community. He said that he has always remembered this Zig Ziglar quote, that he read: “Your faith is very important. I have done the math, and you are going to be dead a whole lot longer than you will be alive.”

Richard grew up in Cloverport, and had three older sisters. His father and mother are Eddie & Florence Basham. Eddie worked for Meade County Electric Cooperative.

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