Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Obituary: Frank S. Custer - Class of 1931

MADISON - Frank Stanley Custer, age 88, ended his brave battle with cancer on Saturday, October 28, 2000. He passed away peacefully, attended by his children, at the Don and Marilyn Anderson HospiceCare Center. Frank was born on July 16, 1912, in Madison. He was the first of five children, and shared his birthday with his identical twin brother, Rudy, of Atlanta, Georgia. Frank is survived by his wife, Selma of Stoughton; his children, Deborah (Tom Sykes) Custer of Columbia, Maryland; Wendy (Mike) Kornell of Stoughton, William of Madison, and Jill (Tom) Hietpas of Madison; and six grandchildren. Frank is also survived by his brother, Rudy; and sisters, Joy Dakin of Dallas, Oregon, and Maya Olsen of Banks, Oregon. Frank was a graduate of Madison's Central High School and UW-Madison. During his high school and college years he was a cheerleader for their football and basketball teams. As one of the famous "Custer twins," he led energetic cheers and acrobatic routines, revving up the crowds on a regular basis. He turned cartwheels on the football field during UW Homecoming games throughout his adult life, until the mid 1990s. After college, Frank served as personal secretary to the founder of The Capital Times, William T. Evjue, before enlisting in the United States Army on June 18, 1942. He was very proud of his service overseas in various World War II battles, including Normandy and Ardennes. Following the war, Frank returned to the states. After a brief respite in southern California, he returned to Madison and The Capital Times, beginning an eventful career as a newspaper reporter. Frank married Selma Iylland on June 25, 1949. A veteran reporter of The Capital Times, Frank was the author of the popular "Looking Backward" column, in addition to covering the police run and writing a variety of feature articles. Frank thrived at the newspaper, loving every minute. Frank had a deep love for Madison and a passion for its colorful history. As a walking encyclopedia of Madison history, Frank became a respected Madison historian. This led him to develop popular lectures and slide shows which he presented to organizations and schools around the area. He also acted as a guide on bus and talking tours, taught Madison mini-courses at the UW-Madison, and wrote Madison history articles for Madison Magazine and In Business. In addition to his professional activities, his tireless energy was funneled into community involvement such as PTA president, Sunday school teacher, and credit union director. He was a dedicated, enthusiastic Chicago Bears fan. Frank loved music, art and nature. He was a voracious reader and treasured his books. Frank was preceded in death by his parents, Glenn Custer and Maya Custer; and his brother, Dr. Glen Stanley Custer. Family and friends are invited to call on Wednesday, November 1, 2000 from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m. at CRESS FUNERAL HOME, 3610 Speedway Road, Madison. The funeral will be on Thursday, Novermber 2, 2000 at 11:00 a.m. at ADVENT LUTHERAN CHURCH, 7118 Old Sauk Road, Madison. Friends may call on Thursday from 10:00 a.m. until the funeral service at the church. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Frank's memory to the Don and Marilyn Anderson HospiceCare Center, 5395 E. Cheryl Parkway, Madison, WI 53711. The family would like to extend a special thank you to Dr. William Rock, nurses and assistants, and all those who have made such wonderful, compassionate care available through the HospiceCare Center. They allowed our father a loving and peaceful passing on to God's arms. Frank was a beloved husband and heroic father who lived to its fullest and had a smile for everyone. He cherished his family and never let them forget it. His love, quick wit and high energy will continue to be an inspiration to his family.

Originally published in The Capital Times on October 31, 2000

Note: Frank Custer's graduation year is based on information in a June 5, 1931 article in the Wisconsin State Journal listing the Central High School graduates.

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