You Know You're From...Spencer: Ronald Draeger

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SPENCER, Wis. (WSAW)-- A train speeds by downtown Spencer.

"If it wasn't for the railroad Spencer wouldn't be here," said Ronald Draeger.

Hidden in train sight, is the Spencer Area Historical Society.

"Incentive for the people to come to Spencer was that it was a land grant railroad," said Draeger. "And so the railroad sold off land first to the loggers. And once the land was logged off, well then farmers bought it cheap."

Draeger is the Vice President of the Historical Society, after serving as President. The village's history has become his passion.

"I started out with genealogy, and you cant help but learn history in the process of learning about people. So, I'm really doing genealogy for the town."

Ronald's history takes him back to Edgar, where he was born and raised. After 3 years at UW-Stevens Point he enlisted in the Army.

"Get the military service out of the way and then I could finish school on the VA."

28 months later, the last 19 in Vietnam, he returned to UWSP and fell in love with Marcia.

"She thought I was interested in her roommate. But as it turned out I was interested in her," Draeger said laughing.

The rest, they say, is history. So what brought him to Spencer? A 4.5 year stint with the police department. That's where he first crossed paths with Joe Weix.

"He didn't put me in jail or anything for being drunk or nothing, you know," Weix said laugingly.

They later became co-workers at Land O'Lakes cheese, where Ronald retired in 2012 as a lab analyst after 30 years.

"He makes things happen," Weix said. "If there's something to be done he's the first one in line."

Ronald can handle an acoustic guitar. With three of his four kids and his son-in-law, the 5 of them make up Draegen-Schlayer and play twice a year. SpenceRama in June and Music in the Park in August.

"I used to play for weddings a little bit. My children are a lot better than I am. I'm just along for the ride," he said with a smile.

Ronald's goal for the historical society, is a bigger facility. Until then, he'll continue to research, freight days a week.

"I spend most of my time in a Lazy-Boy with a laptop."

Ronald says he'd like to be able to move the historical society into an old house, or something like that. And he'll have more time to spend with Marcia, who retired last summer.