BARSTOW This year's Barstow Mardi Gras Parade will be without a First Lady.

Sugar Lee Hamptlon, who was known for her elegant sense of style and involvement with the Barstow Community, died at the age of 90 on October 6.

"She was like a mother for the city," said Hamptlon's daughter, Sugar Lee Lewis. "Not just the black community, but the whole city."

Hamptlon was given the honorary title of "First Lady of Barstow" after doctors that she frequented noticed her fancy style of dress, consisting of elegant dresses and fancy hats.

"The doctors said that I dressed and that I thought I was going to church," said Hamptlon in a 2005 interview with the Desert Dispatch. "They ain't never seen a woman dress like me before. I wear dresses, I ain't no man."

In addition to taking pride in her own personal appearance, Hamptlon took pride in her community.

Lewis said that Hamptlon walked around town often or took rides, as she never learned to drive. As she walked, Hamptlon would pick up cans and litter along the way.

"She would walk up and down the street, Riverside Drive or Mesa drive, and pick up cans to recycle," said Lewis. "She didn't belong to any group, she was out there before Adopt-A-Highway or Adopt-A-Block ... she even swept the street in front of her house with a broom."

Lewis also said that Hamptlon would serve as a "bus stop monitor," inspecting local children's appearance before they were taken to school.

Pearl Jones grew up near Hamptlon in the Riverside Drive neighborhood and knew her for over 50 years.

"She was really kind and caring, really young at heart and was a very good conversationalist," said Jones. "She would talk to anyone about any subject ... she was a good woman, I miss her and will always have her in my heart."

Jones said she often rode the bus with Hamptlon, who was a fan of Del Taco and could often be found with a bag of the restaurant's tacos on the seat next to her.

Former Barstow Mayor Lawrence Dale said he first met Hamptlon when he became mayor in 2001.

"She was just a spokesman for the people," said Dale. "She was always on the move around town doing something. When I was involved with clean-up efforts on Riverside Drive, she always had some instruction in a good way. She will be missed"

Lewis said that her mother was a one-woman committee, who suggested the placement of stop signs and streetlights in the Riverside Drive area that were eventually installed.

Hamptlon lived in Barstow for 60 years. Her late husband, Capus Hamptlon, died in 1984.
Lewis said that Hamptlon liked to walk, ride and be on the move, and that it was only appropriate that that she died as she liked to live on the move.

"We were driving back from a doctor's appointment in Hesperia and were going to check on her brother in Rialto, and she said 'I'm tired'," said Lewis. "Those were her last words."

Information about Hamptlon's services will be posted in our obituary section.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4126 or adome@desertdispatch.com