Trib­ute to Bernie Custis

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

RE: Bernie Custis

An in­cred­i­ble lov­ing and car­ing hu­man be­ing has left this earthy realm to con­tinue his work else­where.

Bernie Custis, an ed­u­ca­tor, coach and role model to lit­er­ally thou­sands of young men will be re­mem­bered for his hands on ap­proach to the phys­i­cal, men­tal and spir­i­tual de­vel­op­ment of these in­di­vid­u­als.

As an im­pres­sion­able 19 year old foot­ball player, I had the good for­tune to come un­der the guid­ance of this gen­tle man. Un­like most coaches of the 1960s, coach Custis’ quiet de­meanour, soft-spo­ken voice, in­sight­ful eyes and guid­ing in­dex fin­ger were all that were needed to gain your re­spect.

Bernie, the Jackie Robin­son of foot­ball in North Amer­ica, was show­ing white kids in south­ern On­tario what Rev­erend Martin Luther King’s min­istry of the six­ties was all about, in his own quiet way.

Over the decades Coach Custis has achieved count­less ac­co­lades for his pas­sion and ex­per­tise in ed­u­ca­tion and coach­ing. But there is no doubt in my mind that the in­trin­sic mo­ti­va­tion of the riveting re­spect­ful eyes of his for­mer stu­dents and ath­letes meant more to him than all the ex­trin­sic hard­ware.

I have for the past 50 years been an ed­u­ca­tor/coach and al­ways thank my lucky stars that I met this gen­tle gi­ant.

Bern, you were my men­tor and thank you for in­tro­duc­ing me to one of my favourite words, poise and its mean­ing.

Your phys­i­cal pres­ence is missed but your aura will al­ways be with us. Rest in peace. Rick Rivers (#16 of the Burling­ton Braves, 1965-67)

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