DAVID JEWETT DREWRY

Lifetime Winooski farmer and maple syrup maker, David Jewett Drewry passed away peacefully on Saturday, December 10 surrounded by his family at his home in Winooski. His family had just spent the previous hour singing Christmas carols. Dave was 92.

Dave was born August 27, 1924, in Menominee, MI, the second son of Charles Bemrose Drewry, Sr. and Carol Olive (Jewett) Drewry. He graduated from Marinette, WI High School in 1942 and started college with his older brother Chuck at UW-Madison before answering the call to serve his country during WWII. After basic training, he was sent to Carleton College, in Northfield, MN to be trained as a navigator for the Army Air Forces. Dave served as a navigator on a B-24 Liberator during World War II in the South Pacific & served in the occupation of Japan. After his honorable discharge in 1946 as a First Lieutenant, he returned to Madison and graduated in 1948 with a degree in agronomy. Being a prolific writer, Dave recounted many tales of working at Oscar Mayer and college life with his brother.

Dave’s parents, Charlie and Carol bought the Joerns’ farm next to the Jewett Homestead Farm in 1931. The Jewett Homestead has been in the family since 1847 and was honored with a Wisconsin Century Farm Award in 1988. As a child, Dave and his family spent summers and spring weekends in Winooski, where his lifetime love of farming and producing maple syrup began. Many summer memories were made with his Van Tatenhove cousins, who couldn’t wait for their Drewry cousins’ visit. Dave’s parents then bought the Jewett Homestead in 1945 and Dave started farming both farms with his father. It was also during this time that the family tradition of maple syrup making, going back to the 1850’s, was expanded.

Dave soon met his wife-to-be, Ruth Whinfield, at a Sunday dinner, at the Jewett Homestead after Ruth brought Dave’s sister Caroline (Cork) home from a function at UW-Madison. He asked Ruth, an English teacher, to go out for a beer and proposed to her that very night. They were married Dec. 26, 1950, at Grace Episcopal Church, Sheboygan.

In 1955, Dave and Ruth purchased both farms from his parents. Dave’s parents continued living at the Jewett Homestead house, while Dave remodeled the Joerns’ house to accommodate his growing family. They became the fifth generation of the Jewett/Drewry family to farm the land. In subsequent years, Dave and Ruth acquired the nearby Azna, Pfrang, Ford, Ebelt and Allmann farms. Most of the farms were acquired for their woodlots to expand the maple syrup production and to provide land for their expanding dairy and later beef and heifer raising businesses.

Dave was named Sheboygan County’s Outstanding Young Farmer in 1959, the same year their barns burned to the ground. The barns were rebuilt with help from their neighbors and lumber from their forest. Their dairy operation was uninterrupted. Dave was a very progressive farmer and built one of the first milking parlors in the state, buried rock walls and contoured strips on a hill side that was prone to erosion. He also practiced many other good conservation practices, not just on the land, but also to protect the Onion River that flowed through the farms.

Family and keeping the family together had been instilled in him by his parents and he and Ruth held many family gatherings and were especially known for the 4th of July celebrations for family, friends and neighbors. He could always find time to talk to anyone who stopped by the farm, and that usually included inviting them in for a meal. On Christmas mornings, Dave and Ruth found upwards of 100 people stopping by for steak and eggs. Dave joined his brothers, nephews and friends several times a year to cabins that he helped move and rebuild near the Peshtigo River. This was a time away from the pressures of the farm and time spent honoring the past and present exploits of hunting and fishing.

Dave and Ruth were among the first commercial maple syrup producers in the area. In 1960, he pioneered the use of plastic bags and tubing to take advantage of the steep hills of Winooski. Later he oversaw expansion and modernization of the syrup operation which now includes reverse osmosis and vacuum tubing connecting over 5,000 taps. Drewry Farms Maple Syrup is widely known throughout southern Wisconsin for its high quality and great taste.

Dave was active in the Sheboygan County Farm Bureau, serving as president and past president, and delegate to the state conventions. He was a member of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, serving as junior and senior warden and as a member of the vestry. In 1979, the church was struck by lightning, and he directed the rebuilding of the church, including starting its first fund raiser for this project, a pancake breakfast, which continues to this day. Dave was a man of action and when he was dismayed by the neglect of the cow monument in Plymouth, he formed and chaired the “Cow Committee” to refurbish what Plymouth now knows as Antoinette. He was a member of VFW Post 5612, and was honored at a Plymouth High School’s Veteran’s Day program. In 2011, Dave went an Honor Flight to Washington DC, with his daughter, Ann. He was proud of his service to his country and continued to be in contact with many of the men he served with by hosting reunions and traveling great distances to see them in their last days of their lives.

Dave and Ruth loved to travel, and took trips throughout the United States and Canada, Ireland, the Caribbean and the Netherlands. He especially loved his trip to Russia as part of The Friendship Force and meeting and learning about all people he met. Many people they met on their travels would later visit them at their home.

Dave is survived by his loving wife of 65 years, Ruth; his children Barbara (Mark) Zimmerman, David (Loretta) Drewry, Ann (Jon) Weeden, and Russell (Cassandra) Drewry. Also surviving is his brother Clarence (Bing) Drewry, at the family homestead in Winooski; three sisters, Alice (Ken) Benson of Boise ID., Caroline (Wil) Robertson of Oklahoma City OK, and Virginia (Dan) Bricco, of Miles City MT; a brother-in-law, Richard Whinfield, of Hartford CT.; and two sisters-in-law, Ellen Drewry of Plymouth and Margaret Drewry of Oconto.

Dave took great pleasure in his 8 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren, 1 great-great, granddaughter and many nieces and nephews. All of those kids who helped Dave on the farm lived for his highest praise: “You do good work.” Dave’s pride and joy and what he loved most was being in the woods and making maple syrup. In his last years, he especially enjoyed going on trips to his woods in his golf cart or the side by side. Dave was always thankful and told you how much he appreciated even the littlest things anyone did for him.

Seven years ago, Dave and Ruth’s grandchildren, Neil and Kelly Cowhig, purchased their home. This allowed them to remain on the farm and experience the joy of nightly hugs from their greatgrandchildren, Cora and Gus.

He was preceded in death by his parents; brothers Charles, Hugh, George and Montrose; sisters-in-law, Julia (Policello) Drewry, Caroline (Riese) Drewry, Jeanne (Kaumheimer) Whinfield, Betty (Whinfield) Forkins; and a brother-inlaw Russell Forkins.

Funeral services will be held at St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Plymouth on January 7, 2017 at 11:00 am with Rev. Diane Murray officiating and Rev. Michele Whitford assisting. Visitation will precede the service from 9-11 am. Military honors will be performed by VFW Post 5612. Cremation has taken place and interment will be in the family plot at Winooski Cemetery at a later date. Phillip Funeral Home in West Bend/ Slinger is assisting the family.

Memorials may be made to St Paul’s Episcopal Church’s Lift Project or Camp Bird in Marinette County.

Dave’s family would especially like to thank his caregivers, Kayla Kulow & Isela Aguirre, Rev. Diane Murray, Dr. George Schroeder, and The Sharon Richardson Hospice nurses.


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