Donna Marie Miller was born to Jake and Ella (Spomer) Miller on March 21, 1943, at her parents’ farm in rural Hurley, S.D. She passed suddenly on the farm in rural Marion, S.D. on Sept. 16, 2019 at the age of 76.
She attended 1st-8th grade at Pleasant Ridge Country School and graduated from high school at Freeman Academy in 1961. After graduating from Freeman Junior College, she was married to Ellroy Koerner by Reverend William Korn at Salem Mennonite Church on the 28th of September, 1963. Donna taught at the Hillside District 92 country school for a year before their first child was born.
Donna was baptized in the Salem Mennonite Church. After she was married, she joined the Bethlehem Reformed Church where she was an active member and was an organist for over 45 years. Donna was always on the lookout for ways that she could serve those around her through the activities she was passionate about. She was heavily involved in 4-H and enjoyed taking on leadership positions in the organization: first as a club leader, then as a member of the Turner County Fair board for 25 years and serving as president for 13 years. In 2003, Donna was named “Fair Person of the Year” for South Dakota. She had also been secretary and treasurer of the South Dakota Brown Swiss Association for seven years, then served as president for two years.
Donna and Ellroy farmed and milked Brown Swiss dairy cows on their family farm near Marion. They and their sons shared a love for 4-H, and 30 years of their married life found them in show rings on the county, state and national levels before finally selling their herd in 2008. With the chore of milking no longer holding them back, Donna and Ellroy took the opportunity to go on several national and international trips.
Donna lived an active life, involving and investing herself as often as she could. While attending Freeman Academy, she helped serve in the first ever Schmeckfest meal. After getting married, she spent many hours feeding her family and working on the farm. She loved to do field work because, as she claimed, it was “easier to sit in an air-conditioned tractor cab and drive up and down a field than to milk cows.” Once she had grandchildren, one of Donna’s greatest joys in life became spending time with them and supporting them in all of their activities.
Donna is survived by her husband, Ellroy, of Marion; children Todd and his wife Suzanne of Freeman and Gregg and his wife, Laurie, of Harrisburg, S.D.; grandchildren Andrew Koerner of Sioux Falls, S.D. Lillie Eisenbeis and her husband, André, of Freeman, S.D., Clara Koerner and her fiancé, Billy Beseman, of Sioux Falls, S.D. Jada Koerner of Freeman, Kylie Koerner of Mankato, Minn. and Grant Koerner of Harrisburg; siblings Dennis Miller and his wife, Florence, of Freeman and Dorothy Preheim of Freeman; and a number of nieces, nephews and cousins.
She was preceded in death by her parents and brother-in-law Lonnie Preheim.