Last Friday, High Desert resident/cowgirl Jan Gibeault headed out for Texas and bid farewell to the place she called home for nearly 25 years. Gibeault moved to Phelan with her late husband, Ernest in 1990 and built a legacy around their love of horses and helping the community through their volunteer efforts.
Much of their time was devoted to working at countless fundraising events for the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce. Additionally, the Gibeaults were involved in local rodeos, including one for youngsters they sponsored in Phelan in 2004.
Gibeault says although she’s leaving the area, her memories of her time in the High Desert will always remain close to her heart.
“Moving is kind of sad and I am sure going to miss this place,” said Gibeault, 69. “But I’m excited to start this new chapter of my life and I think I’m going to like living in Texas very much.”
Gibeault says she and Ernie moved to Phelan to fulfill their dream of owning horses. They built a custom home on 2 1/2 acres of equine property and purchased two horses, Elan and Marbles.
They also became interested in antique tractors and offered tractor services to the Hesperia Chamber whenever they were needed. Additionally, the Gibeaults rode their prized 1940 Farmall model in the annual Hesperia Days Parade.
“Ernest and I did everything together and some of my fondest memories are of us riding our tractors,” said Gibeault, a former field service representative for ITT Diversified. “That’s what I miss the most about our life.”
When Gibeault looks back over all that she and Ernie accomplished, she says she is especially proud of the awards and honors they received from the Hesperia Chamber of Commerce. In 2008, the organization presented the couple with the Lillian King Award, which recognizes outstanding volunteer service.
Shortly after Ernie passed away at the age of 74 in 2012, the Chamber recognized him with the Gil Zank Legacy award for his voluntarism.
“I had no idea he was going to get that award,” said Gibeault, who grew up in Iowa. “When they called his name and asked me to come up and accept it, I was so emotional I couldn’t even talk. He was very deserving of the honor and never hesitated to lend a helping hand. And he always did it with a big smile on his face.”
As Gibeault settles into her new home and community in Paris, Texas, she says knowing that Ernie is smiling down on her will make the transition a whole lot easier. She looks forward to spending time with her sister and niece, as well as finding new friends and activities to become involved with.
“We had a great time volunteering in the High Desert and met so many wonderful people,” said Gibeault. “I will always be thankful for our many friends who enriched our lives more than they know.”