Hometown boy to hometown mayor
By Nicholas Galindo

Dwight Busche Jr., right, president of Xtreme Fabrication, talks with Leitchfield Mayor Rick Embry inside the shop. “We started from a garage shop and turned into a real shop,” Dwight says. He moved to Leitchfield from Northern Indiana to purchase the company. He started with nine employees and is now up to 20.

Rick Embry has lived in Leitchfield his entire life, and he has known his way around City Hall for most of it.

"I was raised by the city," he says. "My father was the city clerk."

Now the mayor of his hometown, Rick, 71, loves Leitchfield and is passionate about its welfare and its potential for growth. As he considers its future, he has gone so far as to recruit younger council members to serve with him.

"One of my jobs is to leave the city with new leadership, the next generation of leadership," he says.

This wasn't Rick's first foray into politics. He was elected to a seat on the city council when he was 26. His day job was with the U.S. Postal Service, where he started in the late '70s and from which he retired after 35 years of service.

"My postal job paid well, especially for rural Kentucky," he says.

He then joined his wife, Joyce, in their bicycle shop, which they owned for 45 years until the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Supply chain issues forced the Embrys to sell the building and close the shop.

Rick saw an opening to return to City Hall. Leitchfield's then-mayor, William Thomason, had been in office for more than 20 years.

"The previous mayor got up into his 80s, and I felt it was time for a change," he says. "It was past time for a change."

Now he hopes to win a second term as he campaigns every day all over Leitchfield in anticipation of the Nov. 8 election. He hopes to continue his vision for progress, and he loves talking to his constituents about it.

Rick appreciates "the camaraderie of knowing the people around me" and the sense of small town security. "I never lock my car or wake up worrying about getting murdered," he says. "So, I like being here."

He says it's simple: "It's not the love of money why I ran for mayor. It's the love of the community."

Feeling good about his chances for re-election, Rick watches TV at his home. “I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot,” he says.

Ahead of a meeting called to sell a parcel of land for a hotel development, Rick sets up council chambers in City Hall. “It’s a marathon,” he says. “This didn’t just happen yesterday and get done today. It’s been three years in the making.” He considers the hotel deal a great accomplishment for his term.

A U.S. Postal Service hat hangs with others in Rick’s home. He worked for the postal service for 35 years before he retired and went to work full time with his wife, Joyce, in their bicycle shop until it closed.

Solving puzzling problems can be a mayor’s challenge, even at home. Here, Louise Van Meter, left, reacts to her brother-in-law’s inspection of the puzzle she and his wife, Joyce, have been working on at the Embry’s home. “Usually, we’d be out gardening,” says Joyce. “But with the cold weather our gardens aren’t doing too well, so we come in and do puzzles.”

Joyce Embry removes a cast iron skillet from the warming tray of the oven in her kitchen while preparing food to bring to the funeral of a fellow church parishioner.

Rick attends Wednesday night Bible study with his wife Joyce, left, at Clarkson Church of Christ.

Rick cuts a stake to hold down a re-election campaign sign which blew over along Brandenburg Road.

Joyce and Rick get food at the Mr. Gatti’s Pizza buffet before Bible study. “This is the Wednesday routine,” Rick says. “We like to come here for dinner before going to church.”

A bike ride down a gravel road near Leitchfield is a pleasantry for Rick. He and Joyce owned a bicycle shop in town for 45 years before having to close it due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “My wife and I used to go on all kinds of bicycle trips,” says Rick. “We used to do week-long trips where we’d sleep in tents.”