Next summer's Sonoma County Fair won't be the same without Donna Koch.
It's hard to imagine the fair at all without the Santa Rosa woman, who first attended the event in 1936 — the year it debuted — and did not miss it again for another 75 years.
Koch, who celebrated her 76th birthday in September, died of ovarian cancer Monday at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital.
Koch was born in 1936 and raised on her family's Forestville ranch, where she helped her parents raise dairy cows.
She graduated from Analy High School in 1954 and earned a degree in home economics from UC Davis and a teaching credential from San Jose State University.
Her career as an educator did not last long.
"When she did her student teaching, she figured out she didn't like teaching," said her daughter, Diana Stornetta, who lives at the family ranch.
Donald and Jean Winkler brought their daughter to her first Sonoma County Fair in a clothes basket the year she was born.
Koch said the event always brought back memories of her father tending to dairy cattle, bantam chickens and Hampshire hogs.
Koch earned her own share of ribbons from showing Jersey cattle at the fair as a 4-H member from Forestville in the 1940s and &‘50s.