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Cheesemaker Bussman remembered for vision
John Bussman demonstrates how to make cheese during the Old World Cheesemaking demonstration on the Square during Cheese Days in 2010. (Times file photo)
MONROE - Known for promoting the cheesemaking industry throughout the stateline area, John F. Bussman is being remembered for his influence in keeping the industry's traditions and heritage alive.

Bussman died Friday at age 92. He was born in Monroe, and during his almost 60 years in the cheesemaking business, the Warren, Illinois, resident was celebrated for his award-winning cheeses. He was also instrumental in the foundation of Monroe's National Historic Cheesemaking Center.

"He had the vision for the Center," said Donna Douglas, executive director for the NHCC.

Douglas said Bussman wanted to create a Cheese Hall of Fame, which evolved into the Historic Cheesemaking Center in 1994. Bussman was the center's first president until he stepped down in 2009.

"He said he wanted it to be a shrine for cheesemaking in our area," Douglas said. "He called it "an era that was that will never be again.'"

Bussman also began a Cheese Days tradition that has continued for nearly 50 years.

In 1970, Bussman and his father made the festival's first public demonstration of traditional cheesemaking on the Square. Bussman volunteered at every Cheese Days since, creating 200-pound wheels of cheese on the Square until his retirement in 2014.

Cheese Days coordinator Noreen Rueckert said Bussman wanted festival-goers to experience how cheesemakers made cheese before the days of automation.

"He was an exceptional gentleman," Rueckert said. "A real icon of Cheese Days."

In 2006, the Wisconsin Cheesemakers Association awarded Bussman its Life Member Award. He also received the first John Bussman Award from the Tri-State Tourism Council, where he was once president, in 2013.

Rueckert said Cheese Days 2016 will have a "respectful honoring" in commemoration of Bussman's life and cheesemaking legacy. The festival is planned for Sept. 16-18.

Funeral services are at 11 a.m. Saturday at St. Ann's Catholic Church in Warren. A visitation is from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at the church. Complete obituary information is available online at

- Times staff