CHARLENE IDELLA STROUT CUSTER
The wife of the late David Fuller Custer, Charlene is survived by her only child, Jan Custer Bryan; grandson, Thomas Custer Bryan; two sisters, Marjory Strout Perkins and Evelyn Strout Greene, both of Bangor, four nieces and nephews, seven grandnieces and nephews. Charlene was an avid horsewoman, riding, training and breeding horses for more than 60 years. The oldest residents of Bangor will remember seeing her riding her horse all over Bangor in the 1930s. In 1948, Charlene and David Custer founded their farm, "Horse Haven", in Illinois and began breeding Morgan and Arabian horses. By the 1960s, Charlene Custer had established an Arabian horse breeding program, producing several foals a year. She became noted within the world of Arabian horse breeders for her encyclopedic knowledge of bloodlines and the Arabian horse pedigrees she produced. In 1975, they retired to their farm in Corinth, along with their 12 favorite Arabian horses. After graduating from high school, Charlene turned her attention to music, her second love after horses. A talented, largely self-taught pianist, she had perfect pitch and played light classics, as well as popular music of the 1930s. By the mid-1930s when the Andrew Sisters became popular, Charlene organized a girls' vocal trio, singing under the names "The Milk Maids" and "The Melody Maids". She wrote the arrangements, sang and accompanied them, and even sewed their matching outfits. The "Melody Maids" were featured on WLBZ radio in Bangor. In the 1930s, she also had a sustaining radio program playing "stride" piano, popular tunes and requests. She used Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady" as a theme song and was introduced as "The Sophisticated Lady of the Ivories." On the radio, she also accompanied singers, and played piano with Norman Lambert, "Jigger" Manner, and other local musicians. The last 10 years of her life, Charlene, always talented with the needle, devoted herself to counted cross-stitch projects, soon producing work of exquisite, photo-like detail. With the aid of computer scanning and charting, she reproduced photo portraits of many family members and friends, and completed over 100 projects. Charlene lived in her own home by herself until very recently and was much beloved by her friends and neighbors for her independence, cheerful outlook, and rugged individualism. Outgoing and personable, she made friends wherever she went and will be sorely missed by all.
Per Charlene's wishes, there will be no visitation or funeral service. Interment will take place in the spring at the Corinthian Cemetery, Corinth, with a brief graveside service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to either Charlene's favorite charity, The Salvation Army or to the Hooved Animal Humane Society, 133 S. LaSalle, Dept. 3891, Chicago, IL 60674-3891. Arrangements by Thompson Funeral Home, Corinth.
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