John Courtright Custer, age 90 years, of Galloway Ridge at Fearrington in Pittsboro, North Carolina, died on March 2, 2021 at his daughter and son-in-law’s home in Chapel Hill, NC due to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Mr. Custer was born August 14, 1930 in Mineola, NY to Ralph and Helen Custer. He graduated from Garden City High School and graduated as a mechanical engineer from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, NY in 1951. He also earned an MBA from Xavier University.
John married his high school sweetheart, Jean Ann Schlosser of Garden City, NY in 1951 and they were married for 53 years until her death in 2004. They had two children. John Robert Custer is a mechanical engineer and lives in Indianapolis. He is married to Pat Barber Custer and they have two daughters. Katherine Barber Custer lives with John and Pat in Indianapolis. Elizabeth Sloane Cabrera and her husband, Jorge Carbrera and their daughter, Lyla, live in Miami. Nancy Custer Chescheir is an obstetrician-gynecologist and lives in Chapel Hill, NC. She is married to George (Chip) Chescheir and they have two sons. Alex Courtright Chescheir lives in Durham and Stuart Cecil Chescheir and his wife, Ashley Edlund-Chescheir live in Geneva, NY. Mr. Custer was very involved with his grandchildren, all of whom either saw him regularly or spoke to him at least weekly. During the weeks before his death, he was brightened by hearing Lyla read poetry to him over video visits and in person.
John was fortunate to have found the second love of his life, Dora Nissen Mann, and they married in 2006. Although prematurely shortened due to her death in 2008, they shared a wonderful love that inspired many people.
After graduation he worked continuously for the Mason and Hanger-Silas Mason Company, a defense contractor, until he retired as Chairman of Board in 1996. He was also Chairman of the Board of Directors of Benchmark Electronic until 2001. His work was primarily in defense contracting, which entailed multiple moves to Texas, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Iowa, California and Kentucky. As well, he traveled extensively internationally with work, and later for pleasure. John and Jean retired to Pittsboro, NC in 1996 where he was active with several local organizations including SCORE, Deep River Mediation at the Pittsboro Courthouse, United Way of Chatham County, and Fearrington Cares, the Newman Center and governance committees for Fearrington Village and Galloway Ridge. His commitment to finding solutions to problems, attention to detail, compassion, loyalty, and ability to connect to people of all ages informed his work and leisure time. In addition to travel, Mr. Custer enjoyed golf, reading and learning, bridge, a spirited conversation, crossword puzzles, and friends. John and eleven friends from high school, collectively known as the Elephants, for undisclosed but perhaps bawdy reasons, remained close from high school to the present time.
He is survived by his brother Robert Custer and his wife, Gerry Custer. They have two sons, David and Jonathon Custer. His brother James Custer is deceased, but his wife Phyllis and 4 sons, Corkey, William, Tom, and Jeff survive. One son, Mike, is deceased. His also survived by his brother-in-law, William Schlosser and his children, Brooke, Caitlin and Brett.
A memorial mass will be held at the Newman Center in Chapel Hill, NC in April. In lieu of flowers, Mr. Custer asked that those who wished to do so could make a donation to the organization of their choice that promotes access to resources and equity, such as Special Olympics, food banks, court mediation services. The family would like to thank the physicians, nurses, therapists and staff of the UNC Health System who provided expert and compassionate care for Mr. Custer and to the staff at Galloway Ridge.
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