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Hernando neighbors| John Basile, 80

From top cop to entertainer

Longtime law-enforcement officer and former Bethel, Conn., police Chief John Basile performs every Friday night at La Bella Cucina in Spring Hill. “I’m loving it,” he says of his third career.

Special to the Times

Longtime law-enforcement officer and former Bethel, Conn., police Chief John Basile performs every Friday night at La Bella Cucina in Spring Hill. “I’m loving it,” he says of his third career.

How long have you lived in Hernando County, and where do you live? Where did you live previously?

I've been in Hernando County for approximately 12 years. I was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., but spent most of my life in Connecticut. I live in Timber Pines.

Who are the members of your family?

I have four children: Nicholas Basile, who lives in California; Sandy Basile, who lives in Stratford, Conn; Michael Basile, who lives in Bethel, Conn.; and John "J.P." Basile Jr., who lives in Danbury, Conn.

Tell us about your career.

I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1944 and served in the Pacific for two years. Then in 1952 I joined the Bridgeport Police Department. Within the first five years, I received 10 commendations for outstanding arrests. I also received a commendation of special note when I dived from a bridge into dangerous currents in order to save an elderly man.

I rose through the ranks from patrolman, to acting detective, to sergeant in charge of the Canine Corps, where I was responsible for training and supervising 15 men and their dogs. Then when I made lieutenant I was assigned as commander of the Bridgeport Police Training Academy. Later I was made commander of a Special Police Task Force to serve in various crime-ridden housing projects, which included the development of mini police stations in these projects and was very successful in lowering the crime rate in these areas.

In 1975, I was made commander of the crime-prevention unit, and in 1979 I was promoted to captain, where I was responsible for a platoon.

I retired from the Bridgeport Police Department in 1981 and then vied for the position of chief of police in the town of Bethel, Conn. I served as chief for 16 years and received two commendations.

I then retired and moved to Spring Hill, where I — at the age of 79 — started my third career.

So can you tell us more about that third career?

I'm currently keeping busy singing. I've always had a pretty good singing voice, but never pursued it. Then one Christmas I received a karaoke machine and not long after that I made a tape for my family.

Then one day while out having dinner at a local restaurant that usually had a singer, but this particular day didn't, I asked, "Where's your singer?" I was told he was on vacation, and then I was asked if I knew anyone who sang. Kiddingly I said, "I do." They hired me and since then I've been singing at various clubs and restaurants.

So, at the age of 80, I've started a new career, and I'm loving it. I am now singing every Friday evening at La Bella Cucina (formerly the Elbow Room) in Spring Hill.

Do you have any special hobbies?

I play golf, tennis, bocce and go to the gym to keep in shape.

I also do oil paintings and have done some woodworking and play the piano and guitar.

Living in Timber Pines gives me the opportunity to enjoy all of these activities right here. It's one of the things I love about being in Hernando County and why I moved to Florida.

What do you think would make Hernando County a better place to live?

Well, the traffic is getting heavier since I moved here. Commercial Way is a dangerous road to travel on due to the careless drivers who speed, disregard traffic signals and act out road rage.

I'm sure the police are doing the best they can with what they have, but I think more enforcement is needed.

Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.

When I moved to Florida, I came with my then-significant other. Two years later, on July 4, 1999, she passed away from cancer.

On March 13, 2003, I had the fortune to meet Camille Axelson, who had recently lost her husband to cancer. We have a loving relationship, and I hope we're blessed with this happiness for many years to come.

Hernando Neighbors is an occasional feature of the Hernando Times. Do you know someone who would make a good profile? We'd like to hear from you. Contact Jean Hayes, community news coordinator, at [email protected] or

848-1438.

From top cop to entertainer 04/12/08 [Last modified: Saturday, April 12, 2008 10:41am]
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