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County's history his passion
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MONROE - Doran Zwygart, who died Tuesday at the age of 93, was a man of many talents and accomplishments, but service was his lasting gift to the community.

Zwygart always was willing to lend a hand.

"He was a great man," John Bussman, a friend for more than 50 years, recalled Wednesday. "We'll miss him very much."

Zwygart was one of the founders of The Historic Cheesemaking Center. It was his knowledge of local cheesemaking factories that helped create some of the displays. He helped the center record and locate more than 200 cheese factories that existed in Green County more than 80 years ago.

"He could answer any question that came up about the cheese industry," Bussman said. "He was still active and coming up with ideas for the center."

Bussman said Zwygart put his "heart and soul" into the cheesemaking center.

If Zwygart had only been involved with a museum to help people remember Green County's historic past, it would have been enough, but the Historic Cheesemaking Center was just one of the things for which he will be remembered.

Zwygart, who was born in Brodhead on July 12, 1916, and graduated from Monroe High School in 1934, also was a soldier, businessman, author and community volunteer.

He served in the United States Army from 1942 to 1945. A decorated officer, he fought in Europe during World War II, and from 1945 until 1952 he was a captain in the U.S. Army Reserve.

He was in the cheese business for more than 50 years, was one of the founders of radio station WEKZ and owned a dairy farm in Lafayette County for 40 years.

In 2008 he published "Cheese Central, USA," a book about cheese factories and the cheese industry in Green County.

He had a passion for Green County's history and he wanted to let readers know the role the cheese industry played in the county's early years.

When interviewed about his book, he said that because of the cheesemaking industry, Green County became the second wealthiest county in the state in the 1920s; had the second largest ownership of vehicles per capita; had the highest income per farm, the highest valued farms in the state, and the most cattle per acre in Wisconsin.

"It made this county," he said.

For anyone who enjoyed listening to a man who knew about history, a few minutes with Zwygart were fascinating.

He also found time to volunteer. He was active in the Boy Scouts of America, the Cub Scouts, the American Legion, the Lions Club and St. John's United Church of Christ, just to name a few organizations.

Ron Spielman, Monroe, described Zwygart as a "quiet leader."

"He was an effective leader," Spielman said. "He was an unassuming role model. He was never in it for accolades."

Zwygart's obituary appears on Page A2 of today's Monroe Times.