Harold Traynor, longtime Milton farmer, dies at 96

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Saturday, September 4, 2010
— Harold Traynor’s 96 years were filled with family, farm and service to his community, affecting Rock County and beyond.

When he died Sunday, he left a legacy of hard work and caring for others in his private and public lives.

Traynor’s long life was a link in a chain of commitment that preceded his birth. His family had been farming here ever since his great-grandmother, Mary, brought a herd of milking shorthorn cattle here from Scotland sometime before 1860.

Similarly, Traynor’s record of public service includes a tradition of serving on the Milton Town Board he inherited from his father, Robert, who served 24 years on the same board.

“He was a very respected individual, mainly by his family and by the community as well,” said granddaughter Brenda Watkins.

Traynor began serving on the town board around 1974 and continued until 2007, according to Gazette records.

Father and son also served on school boards and were prominent members of the American Shorthorn Association. Both were adept at producing prize-winning cattle, Gazette records indicate.

Traynor was a 4-H leader and president of the county’s 4-H Fair Board. The state FFA gave him its highest honor, the Distinguished Service Award.

Traynor took his public service to another level in 1982, when he joined the Rock County Board.

Fellow county board member Bill Agnew recalled that Traynor was his 4-H project leader. Agnew followed in many of Traynor’s footsteps, including service on the fair board.

“He was a great guy to work with all those years,” Agnew said.

Former county board member Dick Towns agreed. He recalled that Traynor often found himself a minority of one, especially when it came to spending money.

“If he was the only one on the county board, he stuck to his guns. He didn’t give up,” Towns said. “…I had a lot of respect for him.”

“Harold was always upbeat, always real positive in terms of his demeanor,” recalled Randy Thompson, UW Extension agent. “He was a very thoughtful individual who you could tell sincerely cared about Rock County, about the rural areas of Rock County.”

“Grandpa was one who dedicated himself first to his family and the farm and then second to the community, “ Watkins said. “He wanted everybody to have a fair shot and to be treated fairly.”

Watkins said that as a little girl she would follow Traynor around the farm. She said he worked alongside everyone else, never expecting anyone to do anything he wouldn’t do.

He was a quiet man, those who knew him said.

But when he did say something, it was something you should listen to, Watkins said.

“He taught me a lot about family and work,” Watkins said. “I can’t begin to put into words how I felt about that man.”

Traynor’s legacy does not die with him.

His son Scott and his grandchildren continue to operate the historic farm. His grandson John serves on the Milton Town Board.

And in an age when Holsteins dominate the dairy landscape, the family continues milking shorthorns, said Watkins, who does much of the milking herself.

Last updated: 3:03 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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