Hesperia founding father Val Shearer died Friday evening at his home in Oregon.

Shearer, 89, died of congestive heart failure at his home in Sandy, Oregon.

"The whole family was there. My kids, my grandkids," his son Mel Shearer said Tuesday. "He just went to sleep, very comfortably took a few breaths and went to sleep."

Shearer was born on July 1, 1919 in Rand, Colorado. He served in the United States Merchant Marines during World War II and worked for 32 years for Southern California Edison.

And, of course, he was involved in Hesperia's civic life.

"He loved that little town," Mel said. "We lived there when there was nothing there."

Shearer was one of the city's original city council members, serving from the time of incorporation in 1988 through 1994 and served as mayor pro tem. The flags in front of Hesperia City Hall this week are flying at half-mast in his honor.

"Dad got on the city council to keep Hesperia a small town," Mel laughed. "We knew how good a way of life it was when you didn't have to keep a lock on your door."

Percy Bakker served with Shearer on the first Hesperia City Council, as well as on the first Hesperia Recreation and Park District board years before.

"Val was always just a common, ordinary reach-out-and-shake-your-hand type of person," Bakker said Tuesday. "He was that consistently for all the time I've known him, which has been, what, 40 years, almost 50 years."

"Val always had to be doing something," Hesperia Recreation and Park District General Manager Cal Camara said Tuesday. "He did a lot of these things to protect our way of life as well. He was very concerned with us losing our liberties as our city grew."

Before he was a city councilman, Shearer was a major player in Victor Valley equestrian events, and was one of the founders of the Hesperia Wranglers equestrian club in 1958. Shearer's commitment to equestrian events was honored when the Hesperia Recreation and Park District renamed the district's Lime Street Arena after him in 1975.

"He didn't think he was giving his time," Camara said. "I think he very much thought it was a responsibility."

"He just liked to be involved and he liked to help the community, what would help other people," Bakker said. "He always had a grin on his face. He was never down or in the dumps. Whenever he was out, he was chuckling, he was grinning."

In early 2007, following the death of his wife of 64 years, Anita, a Purple Robe Locus was planted on the shores of Hesperia Lake in memory of her. Nearby, a Mondale Pine was planted in Shearer's name, with the intention that the two trees would grow together over the years.

Following the service, he moved to Oregon to live near Mel.

"He liked being involved, that's for sure. He was involved with the Boy Scouts, the parks and recreation, the Hesperia Wranglers," Mel said Tuesday. "He loved people, he loved life. Geez, he couldn't have had a better life."

A memorial service was held in Sandy, Oregon on Monday evening. His remains will be interred at Riverside National Cemetery. Donations should be made to the Hesperia Wranglers, HARD Scholarship Fund or local hospice care.

Shearer is survived by children Mel Shearer and Charlene Burt, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.