Sierra Mae Walter, 22, New Paris, died Monday, Sept. 5, 2016, in Fort Wayne. She was born Aug. 10, 1994, to James and Kandy (Berkey) Walter.
Surviving along with her parents are sister: Tanja (Adam) Bish, Ligonier; brother: Christopher (Caroline) Walter, New Paris; half brother: Travis (Stacey) Walter, New Paris; and half sister: Tina (Dave) Reyburn, Goshen; a special young man in her life: Cody Anglemyer, Nappanee; special aunt, uncle, and cousins: Kathy (Mike) Kauffman, Goshen; Karrie; Cory; and Keil; and grandma: Beverly Berkey; nieces and nephews: Ashlee and Ava Bish; Landon and Lillian Walter were the loves of her life. Also surviving are her uncles: Don (Deb) Berkey, Goshen; and Keith (Annette) Berkey, Nappanee. Preceding her in death were aunt: Kitty Berkey; grandpa: Donald Berkey, love of Sierra’s life; and grandparents: Arthur and Clara Walter.
Sierra was an honor roll student, graduating from Fairfield High School in 2013. She was manager of the girls’ volleyball team and was an FFA member. She was a senior at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne, studying Criminal Justice.
In 2013 Sierra earned the title of Elkhart County 4-H Fair Queen. She was a 10-year 4-H member of the Jacksonians/Producers, Elkhart County 4-H Saddle Club, 4-H Beef club, and 4-H Goat club, serving as president of the 4-H Goat club. She was honored in 2012 as the Exceptional 4-Her by The Farmer’s Exchange, participated in the 4-H Corporation Farm Bureau Amish Acres trip, and attended Round Up at Purdue University. She showed her dairy goats at the county and state fair, and earned Champion Does and Reserve Champion Market Wether, placing in the top five in showmanship at State Fair and the North American Livestock show. With her 4-H Beef project, she earned Reserve Champion Heifer and Reserve Champion Steer and numerous other awards and was a member of the Elkhart Beef Cattle Association. She exhibited gift wrapping, and her final year her champion preserves won a special merit at the State Fair.
Sierra was a teacher and for many years shared goat information with 4-H members at the Exploring 4-H Day Camp. You could also find her always willing to share information and the year that she was 4-H Fair Queen, connecting with many young ladies, sharing her crown and posing for pictures.
Sierra was one tough young woman who taught everyone to embrace life and make the most of every opportunity. Sierra worked very hard to not let her cystic fibrosis determine her life. She was never heard complaining about her CF or saying, “Why me?” She was often heard saying, “CF is not my life, and I’m going to experience all that I can.” And she did and lived “Life’s not the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away.”
Sierra liked to go fast, whether it was contesting her horses, driving her anniversary Mustang or riding her pink four-wheeler. A favorite quote of hers was, “Hope you like dust, cause once I’m through the gate, that’s all you’re gonna see!”
She was a public speaker about cystic fibrosis and conducted fundraising efforts in the media, speaking to many schools and organizations in the area. One of her greatest accomplishments was collecting one million pennies for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Through the publicity she received about the fundraising, a total of $25,000 was donated. Yearly, she also donated to Cystic Fibrosis the money she earned for one of her 4-H auction goats.
A memorial scholarship fund has been created to honor Sierra’s perseverance for living life to the fullest. Donations can be made to the Purdue Extension-Elkhart County Education Fund, 17746 CR 34 East, Goshen, IN 46528.
Visitation will be from 2-8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8, and one hour prior to the service at 10 a.m. Friday, Sept. 9, all at the Elkhart County Community Center on the 4-H Fairgrounds, Goshen, Gate 2. Close family friend, Mike Cross, will officiate. Burial will follow at Elkhart Prairie Cemetery.
Rieth-Rohrer-Ehret Funeral Home, Goshen, is handling arrangements.