Daniel J. Zwayer was a highly successful, well-rounded man who enjoyed his many roles in life: loving husband, nurturing father, happy grandparent, reliable brother and son, loyal sports fanatic, respected businessman and, to most everyone who enjoyed his company, a trusted friend. Dan's life came to an end on November 8, 2006, after a very stubborn and courageous four-year-battle against glioblastoma multiforme, the most deadly among many categories of brain tumors.
Dan was not unlike many of us in that he never thought that cancer could happen to him. Many of his family and friends were deeply inspired by both his courage and his tenacity throughout the unforeseen challenges of his disease. He endured four brain surgeries and was a participant in multiple clinical trials — trials that Dan himself strongly believed would help others if they didn't benefit him in the short term.
Dan's commitment to beat cancer was truly an inspiration to all who knew him. He had such a positive impact on the lives of his family and friends in his 55 years of life, that his legacy lives on in the name of charity — charity to commit funds specifically to battle brain tumors, through a wonderful endowment in conjunction with the OSUCCC – James.
Dan Zwayer was a unique human being. Born the eighth of 10 children in Columbus, Ohio, Dan was raised primarily in Mount Gilead, Ohio. Dan's lifelong affinity for the Ohio State Buckeyes was inspired by his father, Paul Snyder Zwayer, who was a graduate of The Ohio State University. Dan particularly reveled in the Buckeyes' great victory over the Michigan Wolverines in 2005, which was the last time Dan enjoyed watching the greatest rivalry in college football.
Dan learned the values of hard work, commitment to detail and, most important, a deep love for family, on account of being raised the son of a farmer/teacher and a homemaker. Dan often recalled rising very, very early in the dark dawn of the Ohio winters, to tend to chores on the Zwayer farm along with his brothers and sisters. This early discipline instilled by his parents resulted in Dan being elected senior class president at Mount Gilead High School. Dan’s leadership experience was itself a foreshadowing of his role of bank president in later years.
The father of three children, Dan adored his two sons and daughter, and was deeply involved in their upbringing. His involvement was not to interfere with the educational process, but rather to enhance his children's education, and to mentor his children. As Dan would always say, to have "pride, hustle and determination" in all aspects of life would lead to success in most endeavors. He helped instill these values in his children and others while serving as a baseball coach from 1976 to 1987.
The countless hours that he spent teaching the mechanics and intangible necessities of baseball, softball, football, basketball, track and field, among other extracurricular pursuits, were not limited to just his sons and daughter. His influence in the Crawford County area will always be fondly remembered by many of his former players, as many of the teams under Dan's leadership were league champions. In addition, Dan was proud to point out that his daughter, Tina, was a participating member of the 1988 Colonel Crawford High School Girls State Championship Track and Field Team.
Over the years, Dan learned to play golf in his spare time and became a fine golfer, routinely maintaining a 12 handicap. Dan's philosophy toward his golf game carried through all aspects of his life. He was never a quitter or a complainer, always believing in the possibility of success in the face of failure. His positive outlook resulted in a life extension beyond what was expected after his diagnosis with glioblastoma multiforme.
Dan was a firm believer in the power of the individual, and despised the efforts by some in society to belittle the individual in the name of certain “class interests.” Dan never took a handout from anybody, but was charitable to many. This philosophy became evident during his successful career as a community banker. He believed that local communities were best served by banks run by local people, who understand the needs, wants and problems of the local community. His deep understanding of community banking resulted in his earning the presidency of the First National Bank of Bellevue in the spring of 1992.
Under Dan's leadership, the bank expanded to include several new branches in the northern Ohio area. Even today, the bank operates the only active bank in Put-in-Bay, Ohio. During the 13 years that Dan served as president, chief executive officer and chairman of the board, the bank achieved unprecedented success, resulting in a near tripling of its overall equity position even though during the last three years of his tenure he was fighting cancer.
While his career successes were important, family simply meant everything to Dan. He always enjoyed entertaining family guests over long holiday weekends, and never missed the annual family reunion. There is no doubt that among his closest of friends were his seven beloved brothers, whom he confided in for all the days of his life. Dan once confided to his sons that he didn't really need a best friend in life, because he felt as if he was born with several — his nine siblings.
Dan was a quiet but firm man of faith, which he drew upon during his four-year illness. Dan was raised in the Presbyterian denomination of the Christian faith, and served as an elder of the First Presbyterian Church in Bucyrus, Ohio. One of the last items that Dan wrote in a daily journal said a lot about the way he lived his life — he wrote that he had an “appreciation for God's world.” Dan's legacy of faith and caring lives on through his endowment to the OSUCCC – James, which will continue to benefit many in years to come.