Kern Funeral Home
1122 South 3rd Street
Mount Vernon, WA 98273
(360) 336-2153
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July 17, 1939 -
May 26, 2019

MSgt. Michael Custance, USAF retired, passed away on Sunday, May 26, 2019 at his home in Mount Vernon, Wash., following a long battle with COPD and asthma. He went to be with Jesus surrounded by his loved ones.

Michael was born in 1939, in Bremerton, where his father was stationed with the Navy. His early school years were in Honolulu, where he won the honor of having his art chosen to hang in the Queen's Palace. He returned to finish school in Mount Vernon.

Michael was a proud graduate of the Mount Vernon High School Class in 1958, attending and helping to organize many reunions. Friendships were very important to Michael and he considered all his former class-mates lifelong friends.

He joined the Air Force in 1959 and served 22 years. Following his military career, Michael worked in the aerospace field in Southern California for 10 years, then returned to Mount Vernon and started his own business, Valley Window Cleaning Service, which he operated successfully for 20 years.

Michael served in Viet Nam with the crew that flew the infamous Douglas AC-47 "Spooky" gunship. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Bronze Star. He served in Germany with the Medivac, and was stationed in Saudi Arabia.

He was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base in Washington DC with the 89th Airlift Wing, (Special Air Missions-Foreign or SAM FOX) where he was a flight engineer with Presidential Squadron, flying with Air Force One and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He flew the Apollo astronauts to Europe on a goodwill tour. He finished his career as a recruiter, managing offices in Southern California and Nevada.,

Michael is survived by his loving wife, Susan, his son, David Custance (Kris), stepsons, Andy Peebles (Christy) and Seth Peebles, daughter, Wendy Custance and stepdaughter, Cynthia Schatz (David). He is also survived by his sister, Mary Lou Custance Norris and stepsister, Marlane Custance McInnis (Tom), sister-in-law, Diane Bergman (David), Dr. Avery Neil Martin (Lisa), his grandchildren, David Custance, Pepper Custance, Kaia Custance, Melissa Michels (David), Ariel Peebles, AJ Peebles, Isaac Peebles, and great grandchildren, Jace Struell and Jade Struell. He was also fond of special relatives, nephews Ruben Custance, Danny Custance and niece, Tanya Custance, Jeff and Shelly Norris, Kristen Ivey (Ted) and all his Schnebele cousins, who he considered brothers. He is also survived by a very special lady, who he called his "surrogate" mom, Ruthie Burress, and all of her family.

Michael never knew a stranger. For many years it was Michael's routine to have morning coffee "with the big boys" at Bill's Coffee Corner (Lunchbox). He also looked forward to lunch with his friends in the Union Club.

He was a member of the Skagit Mount Vernon Kiwanis morning club, and served one year as the Lt. Governor, during which time the Kiwanis Park on 18th Street was put in. He was a member of Washington State Grange, Fredonia Grange #545 and Skagit Pomona Grange #10. He served as Master at Fredonia and was the treasurer for both Fredonia and Pomona. He was an active Mason with the Mount Baker Lodge, and was also the treasurer there, as well as many other offices. He served on the Widow and Orphans Committee and the Building Board.

Michael was a volunteer driver for many years for the DAV, driving veterans in need of medical support to the VA Hospital in Seattle. Michael served on the Board of Directors for Friendship House for 8 years, and also chaired the Dinner Committee for Bethany Covenant Church, fixing and serving dinners once a month at the shelter.

Michael was preceded in death by his parents, Elmer Gregory Custance and Elinor Schnebele Custance, his brother, Patrick Custance, his first wife, Bonnie Custance, and second wife, Patty Custance.

Michael's family would like to extend thanks to so many people . . . first of all, to Skagit Valley Hospital for their caring and compassionate treatment over the years, for the ER personnel who were so skilled at treatment and comfort. His ARNP Erin Collins and nurse Robin, who Michael always looked forward to teasing, Dr. Sandra Hajinian, who gratefully discovered and treated the return of his cancer, Dr. Michelle Sohn, who operated on his carotid artery and his pulmonologist, Dr. Amir Ghararei, who was always encouraging. Michael had great respect for all his special doctors.

We'd also like to acknowledge the wonderful people at Hospice Northwest, Bellevue Medical Supply and Home Instead. The people at these agencies became like family in Michael's final weeks and days, and even his last hours. The family also appreciated the overnight help given by Chris Finnigan, family friend, his last three days.

Funeral arrangements were handled by Kern Funeral Home.

A graveside inurnment with military honors is scheduled to begin at 11:00 AM, Wednesday, June 12 at Mount Vernon Cemetery.

A memorial service will begin at 1:00 PM, also on Wednesday, June 12 at Bethany Covenant Church in Mount Vernon.

On July 17, what would have been Michael's 80th birthday, there will be a Celebration of Life, at Fredonia Grange (time TBD).
Published in Skagit Valley Herald on June 1, 2019
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