Granton 2019 Fall Festival
Honored Citizens
Bill and Nanette Schwantes

Bill and Nanette Schwantes

Bill and Nanette Schwantes were given the Granton Citizen of  the Year Award for 2019
 and will have a special place in this year’s Granton Fall Festival parade.

Cheyenne Thomas/Tribune-Record-Gleaner

By Cheyenne Thomas


For those familiar with the Granton Fall Festival parade, Lynn Dairy has always had either a truck or some sort of float make its way down the street during the Sunday parade.  This year though, things will be different, especially for Lynn Dairy owners Bill and Nanette Schwantes as they have been selected by the Granton Rotary Club for the 2019 Granton Citizen of the Year Award.

The Schwantes will ride in this year’s parade that will take place on Sept. 8, the final day of the Granton Fall Festival.  They were selected for the honor by the Rotary for their years of support of the Granton Fall Festival, the FFA and the rest of the community.

According to the nomination letter received by the Rotary, “Bill and Nanette or one of their representatives have been at the Clark County Fair Livestock Sale purchasing Granton kids’ animals and then donating them back to organizations like the FFA Alumni and others for their banquets.  They  also have been an extremely generous donor to every charitable organization event … they have sponsored numerous parade entries and have even walked the parade handing out candy to the kids.”

Both Bill and Nanette have a long association with Granton, for Bill, that extends to a time before he was born, back to when his grandfather, Walter, first purchased Lynn Dairy in 1949.

“Henry Sternitzky started the factory (back in 1878).  It went through quite a few people until 1949 when my grandfather and grandmother came and purchased it,” said Bill.  “It’s been in the family ever since.”

Bill came into the world a couple decades later and grew up in a house right next to the dairy plant.  That house is now gone, he said, as the site had been added into the growing business complex as an office.

“I was born right here at Lynn, this office we’re in right now was a house, and there was a house here before this one.  My parents lived right next to the dairy.  In 1966, they put this house up and lived here for 20 years,” he said.  “Since it was right next to the plant, I have been a part of it since age five.  I worked some summers while I was in school and in college.  My dad wanted me to come back and help him.  I was manager of the cheese plant when I was 22 years old and I became the owner in 1991 … It’s been getting so busy around here with the trucks and the people.  My parents decided to move out and we made the house into an office.”

Nanette’s story, meanwhile, was taking place far south of Granton.  Growing up in the Chicago area, she said her family move to Granton when she was still a child and she later attended school at Granton, graduating in 1980.

“We moved up from Chicago, we bought a farm south of Granton and went to high school there,” she said.

Still, while both Bill and Nanette had attended high school at Granton and even were both FFA officers, Bill serving as president and Nanette as vice president, time was what separated them.  By the time Nanette reached her senior year of high school, Bill was already a six-year graduate, having received his diploma back in 1973.  By chance, it was the purchasing of livestock at the fair that brought them together.

“He bought my pig at the fair and asked to go on a date,” said Nanette. “We dated a long time after that.”

They were married in 1988 and had three children, two of whom still work at Lynn Dairy.  Their oldest, Taylor lives in Minneapolis while her younger siblings Luke and Regan, both live in the area and help their dad with running the plant.

Alongside their children, Lynn Dairy has continued to grow as well over the years.  Currently, Bill said the plant is running at full capacity with 175 employees and receives milk from 500 area farms.  The cheese made at the plant is sent to both local markets and across the world to countries like China.  But through all their successes, Bill and Nanette said it’s the support from the community that has allowed Lynn Dairy to have such an impact, and it is important for them to repay in kind.

“It’s great, being born and raised here, it’s great to help out the community I was raised in,” said Bill.  “There’s been a lot of support from the dairy farmers.  As far as the dairy business, we have been with these farmers since my grandfather was here.  We have employees who have been here 40-plus years from around the area.”

“We really appreciate the local support as they come to the dairy to buy cheese at the cheese shop.  We appreciate the community,” added Nanette.  “With the support they give us, we make sure to give tenfold back.”

Besides feeling the need to support Granton, Bill and Nanette said there is a love of what is done by the kids of the community that further spurs them on to help the other organizations and events of the area. Nanette recalled several memories she had of their family getting the chance to participate in local events and said it’s nice to be able to give this generation of children the same opportunity.

“I really love the Holstein show, I did that in high school and raised pigs and cows.  It’s a good experience; it’s fun,” she said.  “When our kids were little they would do the frog jumping contest and the pedal pull.  The Granton Fall Festival gave us some very happy memories.”

Even though the Schwanteses have done so much for Granton over the years, they said it came as a real surprise when they were informed about being nominated for this year’s Citizen of the Year Award. Being both honored and delighted, they said the parade experience this year will be a different but exciting treat.

“We definitely weren’t expecting that: it’s really nice that they thought of us.  We’ve been here a lot of years and have seen a lot of people get the award,” said Bill.  “We put a float in some years, but we always put in a truck.  It will be a little different to just ride through though.”


From the Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI

August 28, 2019

Transcribed by Dolores Mohr Kenyon, August 29, 2019

Web page by James W. Sternitzky PhD, August 29, 2019.

Return to Grant Township Community Web Page

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