Hometown: Winchester, KY (Clark County)
Date of Birth: September 12, 1904
Date of Death: December 31, 1985
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Obituary - OUTSTANDING FARMER H.C. BESUDEN DIES, Lexington Herald-Leader (January 1, 1986) by Merlene Davis
Besuden, who lived on Mount Sterling Road in Clark County, was a longtime breeder of purebred sheep, winning 12 grand championships in 18 tries at the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago from 1950 to 1971. The accomplishment broke a record held by Canada. Besuden won with the Southdown breed and became a renowned breeder of the breed.
Besuden was the father of H. Carlisle Besuden III of Winchester, a longtime farm editor for The Lexington Herald and the Lexington Herald-Leader who left the newspaper in 1985.
After graduating from the old Clark County High School in 1923, Besuden attended the University of Kentucky, majoring in agriculture. He played center on UK's basketball team during the 1925-26 season. In 1965, Besuden became one of 30 athletes at that time to receive the Centennial Athletic Medallion. About 4,500 athletes who had played for the university were eligible for the award.
Besuden's financial situation took a wicked twist during his student days, forcing him back to Clark County to fight for the family's Vinewood Farm.
Besuden was 8 months old when his father died, and his mother died when he was 9 years old. He was reared by his mother's family and the farm was placed in trust.
According to an article in the "Sheep Breeder and Sheepman" magazine in 1970, Besuden "was preparing to leave for a basketball road trip" when he was approached by federal marshals who served him with a lien on the farm. They told him that it would be sold for back taxes "unless he could make arrangements to pay them," according to the magazine's account.
He left UK to reclaim the land, some of which had been "plowed to death," he said in a 1971 article.
Someone told Besuden that sheep manure would build up the nutrients in the soil and that sheep would eat the weeds that had claimed some of the farm.
Besuden bought 70 Southdowns, and his future began with one of the early highlights coming when he became president and director of the American Southdown Association in 1941.
"America, Kentucky and farming in particular have been served by no one better than Henry Besuden," U.S. Rep. Larry Hopkins, R-Lexington, said yesterday. "Few have contributed more."
"I had a very high regard for him," said Thomas D. Clark, noted Kentucky historian. "He was a Kentuckian who made a real contribution especially with his livestock. He was a Kentuckian who stood out from the crowd."
President Reagan sent a telegram to Besuden when he was honored two years ago. "Through the years, you have played an important part in developing the agricultural resources of your area," the telegram said. "Your accomplishments in this field have improved the economic climate of you state and strengthened the farming system of your fellow citizens."
"He was one of the most outstanding men in Clark County," said Douglas Goff, a lifelong friend. "He was an outstanding athlete and he had a lot of wit and humor about him."
Besuden's portrait was presented to the Saddle and Sirloin Club in Chicago in 1971. The livestock organization nominates one person each year for a portrait, and Besuden was one of only four sheep breeders to have received the honor at that time. The organization moved its headquarters to Louisville in the mid-1970s, where Besuden's portrait now hangs.
In 1962, Besuden received the Golden Sheaf Award from UK for outstanding agricultural achievements. In 1950, he received the Green Pasture Award for outstanding conservation practices, the highest award given by the Kentucky Soil Conservation Service.
Besuden was also vice president and board member of the International Livestock Exposition in Chicago, and a member of the state Governors Commission on the Industry of Agriculture.
Before his death, he was a board member and vice president of the Hurst Home Insurance Co. and a member of the Board of Regents at the University of Kentucky. He was also director of the People's Commercial Bank in Winchester, and past member of board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank Board of Cleveland (Ohio), the Cincinnati Branch.
He was a columnist for the Sheepman Magazine from 1945 to 1947 and was named a Kentucky Colonel three times. Most recently, in 1983, he was selected as one of four guest livestock speakers by the Winthrop Livestock School in San Antonio, Texas.
He is survived by another son, David French Besuden, also of Winchester.
Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Edgington Funeral Home. Visitation will be from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday.