JAMES "JIM" HAROLD CUSTER
James "Jim" Harold Custer, 79, a long time Wickenburg resident died in his home on July 30th.
Jim was born in Phoenix, Arizona 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 NAU 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, Arizona 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 & 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, Oregon 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 NHSRA 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
A celebration of life service will be held at the Wickenburg Community Center on August 14th at
11:00 am. Arrangements are being handled by Tracy and Cindy Mattice of Wickenburg Funeral
For lasting memories of Jim, his music CDs will be available at the service for any donation.