In a small(er) town like Louisville – whether you interpret that as geographical or social – it is still rare to find high school sweethearts. When I came across Richard and Lesa Buckler, I had to find out how anyone could find love in high school and make it last 33 years later.
After sitting down with the vibrant couple at Details, their East End home and design store, I quickly realized how they’ve managed to keep it together: neither of them have grown up at heart.
“Junior Prom?” Richard asked.
“Yes, we met in high school,” Lesa confirmed “which at the time seemed so ‘all American,’ but it’s not so much the norm anymore.
“We grew up in the very small town of Lebanon, Ky.,” Lesa began. “And in a small town you know everybody! Our parents actually knew each other before we did. In fact, my mom used to date his dad way back in the day, which you know, mortified Richard and I, but we met, dated through high school and then we didn’t,” Lesa said.
After high school, Lesa and Richard both chose to attend the University of Louisville, just not as high school sweethearts. The two were separated for about a year until one evening a chance happening brought the spark back.
“I was singing in a band while at U of L and was on my way to band practice when my car broke down on I-64 West. So I called Richard to come help. Even though we had been broken up and were both doing our own thing, we still stayed in contact some, and I knew he would always be there for me,” Lesa said. “After that we started hanging out more and soon began dating and were almost instantly engaged.”
“And that was 33 years ago,” Richard added.
How did he propose?
“Actually, I think I proposed,” Lesa exclaimed after letting out a laugh.
“We’ve talked about that night so many times and really there was no big gesture. We had known each other for so long that we had talked about where our lives were and where we wanted to be and I think I just said, ‘You know, we should get married.’
“So it was initially my idea, which is not surprising for people who know me because I always have wild ideas,” Lesa said as Richard lovingly nodded his head in agreement.
And on that note Richard happily proposed, proving that sometimes wild ideas are the right ones.
“We married young, which I would not advise, but it was a different time and we made it work,” Lesa said.
How do you divide up household chores?
“Richard had just a phenomenal mother, the absolute best, and when he and I were first married she said to me, ‘Lesa, if you are going to work outside the home that is worth a great deal – but while you’re out making money, you need to have domestic help at home.’ And so that’s how it’s always been,” Lesa said. “It’s just the two of us now, so there isn’t a great deal of household chores, but for us, after working all day on other people’s homes, it is so nice to come home and not have a plethora of chores to do.”
“But if there are things that need to get done we work it out. I do most – if not all the outside work when need be,” Richard said.
“It is probably easier for me as a man than it is for a woman when it comes to balancing and separating work,” Richard said. “I can come in here, do my stuff, get the work done and then I can turn it off. But it gets difficult when we basically live at work, so we just have to make time for other things.”
“He is really supportive of my ideas,” Lesa said. “Through the years I’ve had an idea and he will say ‘go for it’ or he’ll say ‘no way.’ He is very good at bringing me back down. He is very level and even at all times.
“After 33 years of marriage and six years of dating prior to that, the thing that goes without saying in any relationship is trust, and then I always try to add fun to the equation,” Lesa said.
“Goodness we’re old,” Richard said with a laugh. “Throughout the year we’ve opened several businesses and closed some, but at the end of the day, we’re working together at everything we do, and there is great pride in that,” Richard said.
“We’ve had struggles just like everyone else, both personal and professionally, but I have faith in him and us, and I think we can do anything as a couple. The highs are really high, and you just can’t beat it,” Lesa said.
Where do you like to go when you’re out ‘n’ about?
“We love the Village Anchor,” Lesa said.
“Sapporo, we love Porcini,” Richard added.
“There are so many great local restaurants. We love trying new ones, and we love Louisville games,” Lesa said.
“Play golf,” Richard said.
“You’d think that as much as we work, live and are together all the time that we wouldn’t want to spend any more time together, but he’s my favorite golf partner,” Lesa said.
“I taught her how to play when we were 16, and we still love it,” Richard added.
“Another thing we’ve always done as a couple is take vacation together – without the children,” Lesa said.
“They always wanted to come, but we needed ‘mommy and daddy’ time,” Richard added.
“This has helped so much! I’ve seen so many other relationships fall apart once the kids were out of the house. So when our girls left and we became empty nesters, it wasn’t this tragic shock to us because throughout our relationship we had made consistent efforts to spend time together,” Lesa said.
What advice would you offer to couples – new or old – who desire to walk through life in tandem?
“We aren’t threatened by each other – he encourages me and trusts my instincts. He thinks I can do anything, and I believe he can,” Lesa said.
“Know each other really well and don’t hold each other back from anything. I don’t try to hold her back from anything, and she gives me that same respect,” Richard said.
“Realize change is inevitable, and the longer you know each other, the more creative you have to be in your relationship to keep the spark alive,” Lesa said with a grin. “Whether it’s a hobby, like golf for us, or vacations, it takes thought.”
“Don’t become lazy in your relationship,” Richard added.
“I wont’ expand on that anymore,” Lesa said with a laugh.
July 1, 1978
Cats or Cards
Even though Richard grew up in a strictly Cats zone, he and Lesa both whole-heartedly cheer on the Cards.
The couple reside in an East End home close to Details.
Jacqueline (24) and Julia (27).
Lesa is president and Richard is vice president of Details, the design store they own.
Category: In Tandem
About the Author (Author Profile)
Voice-Tribune Staff Writer Lauren DePaso enjoys being a tourist in her own city, exploring the nightlife and cheering on the Cards. A Louisville native, she currently resides in St. Matthews.