Longtime Hesperia Recreation and Park District director Richard Lupton was laid to rest Monday in Loma Linda.


Lupton, 63, died on Nov. 9 after years of battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a progressive, normally irreversible restriction of air into the lungs. He received a lung transplant in December 2008, but spent the last few months of his life battling an infection he acquired during the operation.


Despite his poor health, Lupton and his oxygen tank were fixtures at Hesperia civic events and he attended park board meetings by speakerphone when confined to his hospital bed earlier this year.


"The battle was long and hard. He never complained," family friend Kristen Forsyth said during the funeral. "He never gave up, but his body did."


Lupton grew up in Grand Terrace, and graduated from Colton High School and San Bernardino Valley College. He moved to Hesperia in 1976, where he worked as a firefighter before rheumatoid arthritis forced him into an early retirement in 1996.


"He was my mentor and second father," said fellow firefighter Richard Lentine. "He was always willing to organize, and the first to roll up his sleeves."


A member of the Hesperia Kiwanis since 1996 and a former president, he was named Hesperian of the Year by the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce in January 2007.


"He made everyone feel they were his special friend," said Becky Otwell, a fellow Kiwanian.


He was first elected to the park board in 1994 and was up for reelection in 2010.


"I'm sure he would have been reelected an unprecedented 5th term," said park district general manager Cal Camara. "Richard was our shining star."


Lupton's coffin was draped with an American flag Monday during his funeral at Montecito Memorial Park.


Hesperia Star staff writer Beau Yarbrough also contributed to this story.


Peter Day can be reached at 956-7453 or at peter@hesperiastar.com. Follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/HesperiaStar.