Sonja S. Simpson, age 79, passed away Tuesday, May 8, 2018 at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester.

A Memorial Service and Celebration of Life will be held Sunday, May 20. Calling hours will be held from 2 to 4 p.m., followed by a Memorial Service at the First Presbyterian Church of Penn Yan, 211 Main St., Penn Yan.

Sonya was born May 31, 1938 in Leroy. She was the daughter of Dr. Raymond and Frances Schmelzle and the oldest of three children. She is survived by her husband of 55 years, Joe Simpson.

Sonja will be lovingly remembered by her three children, Dwight (Jeannette) Simpson, Nancy (Larry) Ballentine and Sara (Randy) Kromer. She was also blessed and proud of her five grandchildren, Lindsay, Jason, Dana, Ryan, and Anna. Sonja is also survived by her brother Richard (Laureen) Schmelzle and sister Linda Kay (Dennis) Beaumont, as well as many extended family members. Sonja was a proud graduate of Syracuse University (Class of 1960) and loved her Orangemen, especially basketball! She was a member of Chi Omega Sorority. Sonja continued her education at the U of R where she received her Master’s in Education in 1963. Her love of helping others motivated her trip to Germany in 1961 to help in the refugee camps as the Berlin Wall was separating families. She continued her career as a passionate Home Economics Teacher in the Brighton School District for many years and was recognized as the New York State Home Economics Teacher of the year in 1991.

Sonja (and Joe) worked and raised their family in Rochester (Brighton), and she was an active member of Twelve Corners Presbyterian Church (Brighton) as well as The First Presbyterian Church (Penn Yan).

She was involved in many leadership roles in the church community. Sonja and her family enjoyed many years at their second home on Keuka Lake (named “Billy Goat Hill”), eventually moving there full time after retiring. She quickly became involved in many community activities in Penn Yan, and was an active member of AAUW, Lakeside Country Club, Keuka Comfort Care, and her ladies group, “The Dollies.”

Sonja was always passionate about staying healthy and an advocate for good health. She enjoyed life with family and friends, and winters in Florida. If you knew Sonja, you knew that if you wanted something done right and organized, call Sonja! She was a great planner, whether it was a fundraiser or a party. She loved a good time, whether throwing a party for 100 or being invited to their home for cocktails, she always made it special. She was a wonderful hostess! She lived a full life, and we toast to you, Sonja. Though her “candle of hope” has extinguished, her light lives on.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in memory of Sonja can be made to Keuka Comfort Care, P.O. Box 107, Penn Yan, N.Y. 14527; or The First Presbyterian Church of Penn Yan, P.O. Box 639, Penn Yan, N.Y. 14527.