Hailey Lynn Ponte - American Girl

When the California Agriculture Museum first learned about Hailey Lynn Ponte it was from her obituary that read a little like a resume; a girl with an accomplished list of activities and volunteerism that dominated her life.  It was tragic when she didn’t wake up one morning because of a medical condition that we suspect not many knew about because -- Hailey defined herself as an American girl rather than a victim of life’s challenges. 

This American gal’s life continued to layer on meaning in the days following her death.  Heads in Petaluma did turn with a procession of TRACTORS, fire engines, trucks, vintage cars, HORSES and many heartbroken people to honor the young woman and the spirit of an American girl.

What American girl gets this type of positive and honorable attention?  Hailey Lynn Ponte!  She was proud to have been the fourth generation American on the Ponte Family Ranch in Two Rock Valley, Petaluma, California where she grew up loving farm life, animals of absolutely every kind, and equipment produced and inspired by California ingenuity.   

If Hailey were asked to describe her heritage she would have talked about farm life, working with joy and purpose, and saluting the European values that had roots in the Portuguese culture of agriculture.  Agriculture brought cultures together to share and learn.   She drove tractors as well as any adult male, rode like the wind on horseback, and knew just as much about backhoes, crawlers, high tracks, and wind gages.  No gender barriers stopped Hailey from embracing challenge.  She was fearless! 

Hailey possessed the spirit of the women from earlier generations of pioneers living in California, one of the few states or countries that allowed women to achieve something greater.  And, just like our ancestors she didn’t shy away from fishing, her studies, or entrepreneurial activities.  Hailey earned her way in life and left one more California legacy of great females who strove to contribute to her family and community. 

 

Hailey will remain in our hearts as a uniting force even though she perished at age 19 from a seizure disorder on September 6, 2017. 

–  Lorili Ostman, Director, California Agriculture Museum, 2018