Dorothy Jean Custer
April 16, 1931 – June 16, 2020
Dorothy Jean (Judy)Custer, beloved wife and mother, passed away June 16, 2020 after a long struggle with dementia and scoliosis. Dorothy was born in Marathon County, Wisconsin on April 16, 1931 to John and Elsie Ritter. She was the “baby” sister of two older brothers, Rodney and Donald Ritter.
Her elementary education was in a one room rural school located a couple of miles from her father’s dairy farm. She attended three years of high school in the small town of Edgar, Wisconsin. At the end of her junior year, her father sold his farm near Edgar and moved the family to a farm near Loyal, Wisconsin, where she graduated from high school, a month after her seventeenth birthday, at the top of her class scholastically. It was at Loyal High School where Dorothy acquired the nickname, “Judy”. As the pretty, new girl in class, she attracted considerable attention. Some of the boys began calling her “Judy” because they thought she resembled Judy Garland. Apparently the name fit her bubbly personality. Soon all the classmates began calling her Judy. The nickname stuck with her for the remainder of her life.
Upon graduation from high school, Judy was awarded a scholarship to attend the University of Wisconsin, but was unable to use it because her father moved the family to Oregon. Her conservative German heritage parents wouldn’t allow their seventeen year-old daughter to strike out on her own. However, soon after they arrived in Oregon, with the assistance from a visiting uncle, Judy defied her parents by getting a job as a bookkeeper for a wholesale grocery firm headquartered in nearby Corvallis, Oregon. Judy and a girl that worked with her located a substandard apartment that they could afford in an old rundown house. Two brothers, who were attending Oregon State University on veteran’s benefits, occupied the apartment across the hall from theirs.
Judy soon began dating Leonard “Len” Custer, the younger brother, who eighteen months later became her husband. They were married December 31, 1949; a blessed union that was to last over seventy years.
In October 1950, their married bliss was abruptly disrupted when Len, who was in the Navy Reserve, was ordered back to active duty to serve in the Korean War. At age nineteen, Judy was left alone to care for their two-week-old daughter. Len was gone for nearly two years, of which one year was spent in the Korean combat zone aboard a Navy amphibious ship. Before Len was recalled to the Navy, he had taken a part-time job as a service station attendant at a Standard Oil Company of California company to supplement the small living allowance they received from his veteran beneTits. When he returned, he and Judy decided he would take a full-time job with Standard Oil and try to finish his college degree on part-time bases, so Judy could stay home with the then nearly two-year old daughter. There followed a thirty-year career with Standard. After having to relocate their home nineteen times, they decided to take early retirement and put down roots in the Denver, Colorado area. Judy not only established new homes for her family nineteen times during those thirty years, she held a number of jobs to supplement the family finances. Two of the most interesting were as the office manager for the firm that operated all of the McDonalds franchises in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area, and as head teller at the Waikiki branch of the Bank of Hawaii.
For the next thirty years, after their leaving Standard, Judy efficiently kept the books, and handled most of the administrative requirements, for the family enterprise, which at one time included nine separate businesses that produced in excess of $5,500,000 in annual sales.
Throughout her adult life, Judy’s personal passions were landscape gardening, especially roses, and participation in her church’s activities. Her prize roses were legendary and she took tender care of the church’s rose beds.
Judy touched many young lives as Sunday school and First year confirmation teacher, as well as Sunday School Superintendent on some occasions. She also served as Chairwoman of the Alter Guild and the Kitchen Committee. The dozens, if not hundreds of scrumptious pies she baked over the years for Church Fellowship or fund raising functions earned her the affectionate title of “The Pie Lady”.
Judy is survived by her husband, Leonard G. “Len” Custer, Wheat Ridge, CO; children: Charlotte Hayes, Kenmore, WA and Steven Custer, Golden CO; grandchildren: Mieka Behrndt, Kirkland WA, Deloris Caro, Nanuet, NY, Charles Custer, Bothell, WA, and Alexander Custer, Golden, CO; Great Grandchildren: Shaun McDonald, Seattle WA, Jonah Caro, Nanuet, NY, Steven and Calvin Custer, Bothell, WA. Her eldest Grandson, Tanner McDonald, preceded Judy in death.
A Celebration of Life service for Judy will be held at 11 am on August 8, 2020 at Glory of God Lutheran Church, 12000 W. 38th Ave, Wheat Ridge, CO 80033. There will be a Columbarium service and reception to follow. This service will be available by zoom. Here is the link for those who are unable to attend: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/ 86183223942?pwd=cnlPMzNWQ3c5MVIwS2JvcXJ4Wkc4Zz09
Rather than Flowers, donations are being accepted for The Judy Custer Memorial at Glory of God Lutheran Church, or to Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado, 455 Sherman St., Suite 500, Denver, CO 80203.
A Celebration of Life
Glory of God Lutheran Church
Dorothy Jean Custer
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August 2, 2020
During every visit, I took a lot of photos. Aunt Sis liked looking at them on my computer. She'd share her memories, we'd laugh and I'd take a selfie of the two of us laughing. When she looked at the photo, she said, "We look like sisters." Best compliment ever! I loved every visit and phone chat, because I always learned so much from her and I always felt so valued! Kindest, most caring person ever!