Unless you are an avid equestrian, chances are you've probably never heard of Val Shearer, especially if you're new to Hesperia. Even horse people who regularly attend gymkhanas and other events at Shearer Arena might not exactly know who the man was or what he meant to us. Let me assure you, he meant a great deal.


Val Shearer, who passed away last week after a long, meaningful life, wasn't a genius of public policy or urban planning. He wasn't a crafty politician, cleverly forming power coalitions behind closed doors. In 1988, Shearer was elected to Hesperia's first City Council because he was a can-do man whose integrity was demonstrated one day at a time by rolling up his sleeves and doing what needed to be done.


It's sad to think that such a simple way to lead - from the front - is old-fashioned, but in many ways it is. Twenty years after Shearer was elected - he served as a councilman for six years - the politics of small town Hesperia have generally given way to big-city political methodology. That's not to say that all who have served us since Shearer left office have been lackluster. Many good people have been elected and many more will. Time has marched on and so has the Norman Rockwell-esque civic leader of yesterday.


But when Shearer ran for office, we knew exactly who he was and what his motives were. We didn't have to guess. Shearer was a founder of the Hesperia Wranglers equestrian club in 1958. He had served in the United States Merchant Marines during World War II. He served on the first Hesperia Recreation and Park District board. For Shearer, election to a city council seat was the culmination of literally decades of trustworthy service. Any accolades he received were earned over a period of time.


If you can hear these words from heaven, Val Shearer, thank you for taking the guesswork out of choosing our leaders. Thank you for a life of meaning and purpose. Thank you for being exactly who you were - good, decent and hardworking. Your most important contributions to our town may have been simple and direct, but they were just what we needed.