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James (Jim) Harold Custer

Posted 2018-08-08 by Sharla
The Wickenburg Sun, Wickenburg, Arizona
Wednesday, August 8, 2018

James Harold Custer
April 23, 1939 - July 30, 2018

James “Jim” Harold Custer, 79, a long-time Wickenburg resident died in his home on July 30, 2018. Jim was born in Phoenix on April 23, 1939, to Jack and Gladys Custer. Jim attended and graduated from Prescott High School in 1957.

In his early years, Jim was very athletic and was a state finalist, golden gloves boxer, an avid hunter, fisherman and swimmer (having spent many years as a lifeguard at Granite Dells in Prescott). While in high school, Jim was a guitar player and singer in bands with such notable musicians as Richie Albright (drummer for Waylon Jennings), and Jim Monnett and Bob Baller of the Arizona Outlaws.

Jim then attended Northern Arizona University where he majored in art. During those years, he met his lifelong, best friend, Cal Baird who got him a spot on the Northern Arizona University rodeo team as a bareback and bull rider, and later went on to get his PRCA card.

His involvement in rodeo led him and Cal to a brief life of stunt work where Jim doubled for Elvis Presley as a bull rider in the movie Stay Away Joe, as well as riding bulls in The Rounders with Henry Fonda and Glenn Ford. This also led to other stunt and extra work in the movies Distant Trumpet, Junior Bonner, and the television series The Monroes.

Rodeo also led Jim to meeting his future wife Dixie Tatum, who was from a longtime Arizona rodeo family. They were married in Williams in 1965. Soon after, they gave birth to their first son Cody, who was later followed by Brett, JimBob, and then Connie.

While living in Prescott, Jim worked for a dentist doing crown and bridgework working with silver and gold, which sparked his interest in becoming a silversmith and jewelry maker. Then in 1971, Jim and Dixie partnered with his in-laws, Dick and Virgina, to acquire the Diamond M Campground and Rodeo Arena in Flagstaff where they produced several rodeos and team roping events. Jim soon became a very competitive, professional team roper.

Jim moved his family to Roseburg, Ore., in 1976 where he worked for the Christiansen Brothers Rodeo Company and furthered his rodeo career as a professional team roper. During this time, Jim also learned to engrave, which later led to him and Dixie starting their own trophy buckle company. After a few years,

Jim and his family returned to Arizona, living in Kingman for a year while he was working on the construction of Interstate 40 before finally settling down and making their home in Wickenburg in 1979.

Jim, Dixie, and their sons spent many years traveling the rodeo circuit and were actively involved in all aspects of rodeo. Jim was the National Director of Arizona to the National Board of the National High School Rodeo Association for 12 years. It was in Wickenburg that Jim and Dixie’s Championship Trophy Buckles business began to flourish having made buckles for many well-known celebrities and musical artists, in addition to providing buckles to top rodeos across the United States.

In 1980, Jim was involved in a team roping accident that left him with six broken vertebrates in his neck and paralyzed from the neck down for a period of time. It was a very traumatic and tumultuous time for the Custer family. The accident, however, eventually led Jim to get back into his singing, and ultimately led him to music ministry.

He had the opportunity to go to Nashville and record an album with a top producer that had produced albums for the likes of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Willie Nelson. Jim’s musical talents were recognized by the Country Gospel Music Association where he was the recipient of two awards.

Later in his life, Jim, who was always looking for a new interest and challenge, got into real estate and soon became a top-selling realtor in the local Wickenburg area before another accident slowed him down, and his health and quality of life began to decline.

Before Jim’s passing, he was able to travel to Colorado Springs last year to see his son Cody inducted into the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, which was a family reunion of sorts celebrating their family’s lifelong journey, sacrifices, and hard work coming to fruition and culminating in a very proud moment for all of them.

Although, Jim’s physical quality of life was hindered for a good many years, he was blessed with numerous accomplishments, experiences, and relationships that made for a very rich and full life, of which only a glimpse is being shared here. Jim touched many lives in his time on earth and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him, and, welcomed in heaven by all those who went before him.

Jim was preceded in death by his parents Jack and Gladys; sons Brett and Danny; daughter Connie; and grandson Aaron. He is survived by his wife Dixie of 53 years; daughter Shawna Custer of Arizona; sons Cody (Stacey) Custer of Oklahoma; JimBob (Mardi) Custer of Washington; brothers Charles (Arlene) Custer of Florida and David (Nancy) Custer of Colorado; six grandchildren Lacey and Brett Custer, Brittany O’Hair, Paige, Marty, Hailey, Shelby (LaCosse), and Imari Custer; and eight great-grandchildren.

He is also survived by his nephews and nieces, Bruce, Kylie, Phillip, Steven, Michael and David; his brother-in-law Danny Tatum, nephew Brett (Keylie) Tatum; sister-in-law Gwendolyn Tatum Glattfelder, nieces Brenda Prudham, Donda (Phil) Pothen, Jolonda (Mike) Britain, and nephew JD Edwardson.

A celebration of life swill be held at the Wickenburg Community Center on Aug. 14 at 11 a.m. Arrangements are being handled by Tracy and Cindy Mattice of Wickenburg Funeral Home.

For lasting memories of Jim, his music CDs will be available at the service for any donation.


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