Jerry and Fran Cox loved to ride their horses in Hesperia's wide open spaces. And when Hesperia officially became a city in 1988, the couple took the lead to ensure all Hesperia equestrians would be able to saddle up and ride for years to come.


"They were instrumental in getting all the trails on the map," said Bob Teran, who took over as president of the Hesperia Equestrian Council nine years ago after Jerry Cox stepped down. "Jerry and his wife were some of the original members of the Equestrian Council."


Saturday afternoon, friends and fellow horseback riders gave Cox, 92, a picnic party as a fond farewell. Two days later, Cox would board an airplane with his son Woody Cox and move to the son's home in Alabama.


"They were there right from the beginning," said Cal Camara, administrator of the Hesperia Recreation and Park District. "They sat in on the trails and recreation element sessions for the city's master plan. I love those two. They were great, very positive people."


Former councilman Mike Lampignano, a longtime equestrian, credited the Coxes for their dedication.


"They're very community minded," Lampignano said. "They did a wonderful job. They were very active in the growth of the community. Jerry has always been inspiration, a real asset for sure."


Cox leaves as Hesperia's equestrian community is changing with the times. The Val Shearer Arena, which was located at Lime Street Park for many years, will reopen at the Equestrian Center next to Hesperia Lake Park.


On Saturday, members of the Equestrian Council and others including E.T.I. Corral #103 and E.T.I. Corral #66 worked on the creation of a cook shack, which will be used for club and other equestrian events.


The seventh annual Cox Trail Ride, in honor of Fran and Jerry Cox, is scheduled for June 24-26. The event benefits the Hesperia Lake Equestrian Campground.


For more information, call the Hesperia Recreation and Park District at (760) 244-5488.