Sylvia Fetter dies after crashing into treePublished 8:33am Wednesday, October 14, 2009
By JOHN EBY
Dowagiac Daily News
Sylvia Fetter, Cass County Fair horse superintendent and a 49-year 4-H leader, lost her life crashing into a tree Monday night in Elkhart County, Ind.
Connelly Funeral Home in Cassopolis is in charge of arrangements.
Fetter, 66, of Edwardsburg, told Concord Township EMS workers she had hip pain and trouble breathing immediately after the head-on crash at 9:20 p.m. She died at Elkhart General Hospital.
Cause of death was under investigation, according to an Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department news release.
A witness told police they saw in the rearview mirror Fetter’s westbound car veer off County Road 20, just west of County Road 9.
The witness turned around, returned to the scene and found her car had struck the tree.
In September 2002, Fetter, a four-term Michigan 4-H Foundation trustee, and Dan Wyant, former Michigan Department of Agriculture director from Cassopolis, were inducted into the Michigan Emerald Clover Society for their outstanding contributions to 4-H programs.
At the time, Cass County had more than 350 volunteer leaders working with more than 900 4-H members. Fetter and Wyant were members of the inaugural class, which coincided with the 4-H centennial.
At the time, the businesswoman credited 4-H with teaching her “initiative, sportsmanship, independence, responsibility, commitment, leadership and provided me with a sense of belonging to something that’s good, positive and wholesome. The power of 4-H is awesome!”
Sylvia Irene Harp Fetter until 1990 was a noted educator and advocate for disabled adults in Cass County.
The former Miss Cass County began her career as a social studies teacher in the Edwardsburg school system.
She joined the staff of Aux Chandelles, a private school in Elkhart, where she directed the preschool program.
In 1974, Fetter joined Cass County Community Mental Health, now known as Woodlands Behavioral Healthcare Network.
For 15 years she served as advocate, case manager and developmental disabilities specialist and program director and manager for citizens with disabilities.
In these roles, Fetter established a homebound program for children with special needs, the first adult activity program and adult work activity program and the first Cass County Alternatives to Institutional Settings residence for severely mentally challenged adults.
Fetter was a former president of the Cass County chapter of the National Management Association.
Her longevity as a 4-H leader and willingness to serve carried on a family tradition.
Fetter’s parents, Wilma (Reinoehl) and Harold Harp, owned the corner store at U.S. 12 and Cassopolis Road on the way to Elkhart. It was in business until 1995. In 1946, the couple purchased his father’s service station and added a general store that stocked everything.
Mr. Harp, who died in 2002, was a Cass County commissioner for two terms, chairman of the Mason Township Board of Review for more than 25 years, township treasurer for four years, a member of the building commission for the Medical Care Facility and courthouse annex, instrumental in establishing the Mason-Union Library and a Farm Bureau member.
In 1956, the Harps founded 5-H Horse Club to develop blue-ribbon youth rather than champion horses.
He served as a Cass County Fair board director for 19 years, superintendent of horses for more than 40 years and was instrumental in building the new grandstand, horse barns and arenas.
In 1979, her father was named an outstanding 4-H leader.