Bernie Custis

September 23, 1929 - February 23, 2017

Bernie Custis

September 23, 1929 - February 23, 2017


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Buying flowers from us ensures that your order will be fulfilled through working with a network florists that are trusted by local funeral homes and recognized partners of the funeral industry. A customized message, along with a photo of your selected arrangement will remain in perpetuity within this memorial website. This service also includes “Smart Select” whereby the store notifies you if your floral selection has already been selected by another sender. This allows you the opportunity to choose a different product to ensure the family has a beautiful and unique selection of unique floral arrangements.

The price of these selections also includes the funeral home’s care of the flowers after the funeral and the delivery to the family or facility of choice where they can be rearranged and enjoyed by others for a longer period.

Memorial Candles

A Perpetual Tribute

The solitude and quiet peace of a flickering candle has long been a symbol of remembrance. Each candle lit will remain lit within this memorial website for the period you select. Your thoughtful gesture will be captured both in the candle as well as listed in perpetuity within the tributes section.

Memorial Trees

Circle of Life

In today’s changing world with climate change and environment concerns, “Honoring a Life” allows for family and friends to plant a memorial tree in honor of their loved one and friend. The purchase of a tree creates a beautiful permanent record on the Honoring a Life website, Each tree is planted through the efforts of Forestry Services throughout North America who determine where the greatest needs for reforestation are. Once planted, the geographical location where the tree is planted will be added to the record. A beautiful card is also sent to the family signifying your thoughtful gesture.

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The time surrounding a death can often bring unexpected final expenses for the family far beyond the funeral itself. We are pleased to offer the ability for friends and relatives to financially support the family during their time of loss as an alternative to flowers and other sympathy gestures.

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Obituary for Bernie Custis

CUSTIS, Bernard Eugene
Thursday February 23, 2017 marked the passing of Bernie Custis in his 88th year and the commencement of great grief for so many people from the worlds of education and athletics. Bernie is survived by his sister Joan (Custis) Mayfield, Philadelphia PA, nephew Brandon Mayfield, Philadelphia PA and niece Joanne Mayfield, Hartford CT. Predeceased by his wife of 47 years Lorraine (Dafoe) Custis, brother James Custis and sister Madge Whitley. Bernie was fortunate to have a wonderful companion, Doreen Douglas, who will miss him dearly. As a testament to Bernie’s character, he had many families adopt him and for so many, he is a much loved uncle who will be sadly missed. Bernie was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 23, 1929. His athletic prowess shone at an early age and he lettered in baseball, football, basketball and track and field while attending John Bartram High School. Bernie earned an athletic scholarship to Syracuse University in 1947 where he starred in football as an African-American quarterback, which was unheard of at that time. Bernie’s exposure to overt racism occurred when he attended a training camp after being drafted by the Cleveland Browns and was told that the NFL was not ready for a “coloured” quarterback. Bernie was given the opportunity to play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1951, where he became the first African-American quarterback in professional football in North America. Bernie was able to demonstrate his skills at quarterback and running back and he was instrumental in winning the Grey Cup in 1953. His football career ended abruptly due to injury in 1956 while playing for the Ottawa Rough Riders but also heralded his coaching career with the Tip Tops, East York Argonauts, Oakville Black Knights, Burlington Braves, Sheridan College Bruins, and the McMaster University Marauders, during which time he mentored and had significant impact on the lives of innumerable young athletes. He was awarded coach of the year awards for the OUAA (1982 and 1985) and for the CIAU (1982). Bernie was inducted into the Syracuse University Hall of Fame (1977), the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (1998), The McMaster University Sports Hall of Fame (2000), The City of Burlington Sports Hall of Fame (2008), and The Hamilton Sports Hall of Fame (2013). Bernie became a teacher and a principal for the Wentworth County School Board and dedicated himself to having all youth maximize their potential in his 35 years in the field of education. Bernie was also a talent scout for the Toronto Argonauts and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The coach may be gone but his legacy will endure forever. Many thanks to Dr. Adam Greszlo, CCAC, staff of Appleby Place Retirement Home, Joseph Brant Hospital, Lakeshore Place transitional care unit, Dr. Ragonetti and the staff of Billings Court Manor for the exceptional care provided to Bernie as his health declined. Visitation at SMITH’S FUNERAL HOME, 1167 Guelph Line (one stoplight north of QEW), BURLINGTON (905-632-3333), on Thursday, March 2, 2017 from 6-9p.m and Friday, March 3, 2017 from 1p.m. until the time of a Celebration of Bernie’s Life at 2p.m. at The Burlington Performing Arts Centre, 440 Locust Street, Burlington, Ontario L7S 1T7. If so desired, donations to Right to Play, the Burlington Humane Society or the Alzheimer’s Society would be appreciated.

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  • 1167 Guelph Line
    Burlington, ON
    L7P 2S7
  • 905-632-3333

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