When I learned that Richard Lupton had died last week, it wasn't a shock. He was, after all, clearly struggling with health issues, most noticeably chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. But what is surprising is the realization of just how much he will be missed.


Certainly the contributions Richard made to the community as a Hesperia Days parade organizer and park board member are important and plenty. But he was more than just a civic leader. He was a man of immense heart and character, and the loss of a person like that is immeasurable, as those who knew and loved him are realizing now.


Richard and my relationship was a professional one. He was the community leader. I was the editor/reporter. While I have numerous acquaintances like that, my relationship with him was different. He had a spark about him that was rare. He would connect with me at news events, usually with a quick, friendly word or two. Occasionally he might lobby a position or suggest the Star do a particular story. But he was always friendly and engaging. I appreciate that now.


Perhaps the most important contribution Richard Lupton made was demonstrating the power of quiet resilience. Rarely in the six years I knew Richard did I see him without his oxygen tank. But I never heard him complain or whine. He soldiered on.


I don't remember the last time I saw him, but I certainly remember the last time I heard Richard's voice. It was at a park board meeting several months ago. His seat, with his name plaque on the table in front of him, was empty, but there he was, engaged and participating in the meeting's official business via a conference phone call.


Perhaps that is a precursor to things to come: We may not see Richard Lupton at board meetings, Kiwanis gatherings, the parade and the like, but we'll certainly feel his presence and appreciate his purpose-filled life.


***


What great news it was to learn that Sizzler Restaurant is going to be back in action, perhaps before Christmas. The west side of Hesperia has enjoyed the buffet at Wood Grill Restaurant, now east side residents will be able to stay on their side of the bridge for a good salad bar not to mention steak, chicken and more.


But what's even better news is the 75 to 80 new jobs the new Sizzler will bring to the area. That's tasty indeed.


***


Speaking of the holidays, the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony is almost here. Like last year, the event will be at Hesperia Civic Park, next to City Hall and the Hesperia Library.


But as always, the event is much more than just a tree lighting, there will be music, refreshments, food and holiday craft vendors. And, of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there.