Longtime Hesperia Chamber of Commerce member and ambassador Ernie Gibeault has died. He was 73.

Retired dairy delivery driver Gibeault and his wife Jan had been chamber members since 2000.

The Gibeaults were some of the first people former board member Debbie Cannon met when joining the chamber.

"He was always like a strong oak tree," Cannon said, "just standing there looking for ways to help and support his friends and focused on finding any new face to welcome."

"They drove their tractor in (the Hesperia Days) parade every year," longtime chamber member Becky Otwell said. "They collected John Deere tractor stuff. I used to buy them silly John Deere things."

"He was so honest, direct, friendly and reliable," said Hesperia Chamber of Commerce executive assistant Paula Martinez. "I was so blessed to have had the pleasure of knowing him."

Gibeault died March 29. He is survived by his mother, one brother and five sisters, three children, five grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

There will be a memorial service from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Hesperia Church of the Nazarene, 8518 Maple Avenue. A potluck reception will follow. Call (760) 559-0254 or (760) 948-8808 for more information.

Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.