Earl "Jim" Custard

Jim Custard never met a baked good he didn't like.

“He loved them all,” his wife, Connie, said. “There was nothing he didn't eat.”

Now, half of Jim and Connie's Bakery is gone. Jim passed away Jan. 5. He and his wife owned the bakery for 30 years, baking side by side.

"It's going to be a big loss,” Connie said through tears.

Trading a wrench for a rolling pin, Jim moved from work as a mechanic to becoming a baker. He and Connie met when she worked at Mr. C's Steakhouse in Omaha. They bought the bakery and were married for 25 years.

Jim baked bread, doughnuts, cakes, anything you can think of.

"Any time a family member or acquaintance passed away, Jim was there within hours with a big box of donuts for the family," said Don Woodring, Connie's cousin. "That always amazed me. I don't think he ever missed anyone."

Connie's son, John, does some of the baking at the store.

"He could do anything in there because he had a good teacher," Connie said.

While Jim dealt with medical issues, the community of Blair stepped up to support the Custards. In late November, the community gathered to buy out the store so Connie could spend more time with Jim.

"It was awesome," said Connie. "I've never seen anything like that. We have a lot of good people in this town. What a surprise."

Blair resident and friend Bob Tichota said Jim was fun to visit with.

"He had so many stories about his life from a long time ago,” Tichota said. “He was a very caring person, loved people, it was a pleasure to go to the bakery in the morning and see him."

Jim was a former U.S. Marine and member of the Jackson-Peck American Legion Post 274 in Herman, according to Carl Lorenzen, who met Jim through the bakery.

"He was a proud Marine, served in country during the Vietnam War and was proud of his service," Lorenzen said. "He was one of the good guys."

Dave Woodring, another cousin of Connie, said Jim had a sense of humor.

"He laid on the floor once behind the counter waiting for Phyllis Green to come in," Dave said. "He grabbed her by the ankle when she went by."

When Jim wasn't busy baking, he could be found on the water, according to Don Woodring.

"He loved the river," Woodring said. "They had a cabin in Tekamah before it flooded. He liked to turkey hunt with a bow a lot of times. There was never a dull moment with him."

Blair resident and friend Ernie Brenneis would talk to Jim frequently at the bakery.

"He would talk to anyone. I can't tell you how many times we'd sit and he'd talk a little about his time in the service," Brenneis said. "He would talk about hunting and fishing — he'd talk your leg off if you'd let him. He was just a joy to be around."

Jim was born March 29, 1937, and graduated from Omaha North High School. He joined the U.S. Marines and was honorably discharged in 1963. Jim is survived by his wife, Connie; children, Michael (Monica) Custard, Scott Custard, Lori (Jon) Martin, Tim Mann and John (Jennifer) Mann; grandchildren, Wyatt Walker, Mason Mann, Noelle Kyral and Paige Kyral; as well as many extended family. He was preceded in death by his parents, mother- and father-in-law, Tim and Erna Engelke; and sister, Mariliyn (Sam) Nanfito.

Funeral services were held Friday.

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