Dairy Farm Family Leaves Legacy for 4-H Youth

Sonja Brown was born in Hamilton County and moved to a farm west of Rochester, IN in the early to mid 1940’s. She graduated from Aubbeenaubbee High School in Leiters Ford in 1958. After attending Purdue University for a year she later received training from H&R Block to be an income tax preparer.

Sonja’s parents raised Guernsey Dairy Cattle as their main source of income on the farm. They also had swine, chickens and a few beef cattle. Sonja was the oldest of four children.

Sonja married James Easterday in 1959 and they raised four children of their own, David, Michael, Katharine and Kelly. In 1972 they bought a farm where they had dairy cows. Sonja prepared tax returns until her death in 2011. She was a 4-H leader and spent over 25 years as a volunteer on the 4-H Beef Committee. She enjoyed gardening and spending time with her grandchildren.

Sonja was dedicated to her family and generous with her time. She taught her children the value of giving back. She was a tenacious card player and was skilled at whatever game her family played.

She was also a very good listener and went out of her way to help others who needed it. She was an empathetic and sympathetic person who needed to have a box of Kleenex by her side at all times, as she took the suffering of others to heart.

Her daughter, Kelly Easterday Heckaman said this, ”I always admired how my mom volunteered her time. It seemed only fitting to share her love, generosity of spirit and her love of dairy cattle through what she helped me to build. It just came full circle. Establishing this fund will help accomplish this goal for youth for many years to come.”

The Sonja Easterday Fund will provide funding to the Kosciusko County 4-H Council to be used for event registration and travel expenses for youth involved in Dairy Judging Team, Dairy Foods Judging Team, Dairy Youth Conference activities, among many other specific uses. The fund will also provide annual funding for the Rochester FFA chapter.