Cover photo for Esther Lily Custer's Obituary
Esther Lily Custer Profile Photo
1935 Esther 2023

Esther Lily Custer

April 21, 1935 — May 12, 2023

Esther Lily (Carter) Custer was born April 21, 1935, in the Indian Hospital in Concho, Oklahoma to Chilson and Manila Howell, one of eight kids and stepkids. She was adopted by her aunt after her mother passed away when she was three years old. Esther was musical and played the accordion and the piano, and performed with her brother Sherman on the violin. Her family eventually moved to Drumright, Oklahoma, where Johnny Custer was seated next to Esther Carter in history class. After they both turned 19, they were married and remained so for 66 years until Johnny's death. Following high school graduation, Esther attended Draughon School of Business where she learned bookkeeping. She also worked in the map room at Skelly Oil. She later joined Johnny in the family business forms company, Dimension Specialist, where she worked full time and kept the books.

Esther achieved her dream of becoming a Christian counselor by going to college when all of her kids were in school. After seven years, she graduated from ORU in 1979 and worked as a chaplain at Oklahoma Osteopathic Hospital and Hillcrest Medical Center. In 1989 she cofounded Hope Center of Tulsa, a Christian counseling center that provided services regardless of ability to pay, which is ongoing today.

Esther and Johnny had three kids -- Doug, Jana, and Leslie, and a foster son Steve. She was a wonderful mother, thoughtful and kind, who also set a fine example of how to juggle family life with a job she loved, helping others. She would see a need and quietly meet it, without fanfare or expectation of anything in return. She had the gift of a servant's heart and poured into the lives of others.

Johnny and Esther were active in their church, first East Tulsa Christian Church, then Cedar Ridge Christian Church. They were high school youth sponsors for many years at East Tulsa, going on float trips, ski trips, hosting taffy pulls at their house and mentoring countless high schoolers in the process. Esther was also a fixture in the church nursery, first at East Tulsa and then at Cedar Ridge, where she rocked many babies and shared her mom wisdom with young mothers. She also served many years as the forwarding agent for missionaries to India, the Weesners.

Esther died at the age of 88, on May 12, 2023, at home in Tulsa, Oklahoma shortly after she was diagnosed with cancer. She is survived by her sister Joyce Burns of Houston, her brother-in-law Jimmy Custer (Marilyn), her children, Doug Custer (Jeanette), Jana Martin, and Leslie Weeks (Alan), her foster son Steve Winders, her grandchildren, Drew Custer (Jessica), Jerica Downes (Tyler), Heather Baker (Steven), Jared Martin, Lily and Anna Weeks, and her great granddaughter Harlow Baker.

Esther was a constant and devoted friend, mother, wife, sister and daughter. She was always there with her sweet spirit and gentle kindness. She was quiet, but also had a strong will of iron when needed. Esther was a mentor to many women, influenced countless lives and was devoted to God, the church, her family, and her wonderful circle of friends. For a long time, she hosted family dinners every Sunday after church. She liked to laugh (sometimes until she couldn't stop), but didn't like to be tickled, loved to read, puzzle, travel with friends and play bridge; she was also witty until the end. Toward the end of her life, she had dementia, but maintained her sweet spirit and love for cookies throughout. But most of all she loved her family, her kids and her grandkids, and together with Johnny built a legacy of love that will last a lifetime.

Visitation will be held on Friday, May 19, 2023 from 5-7PM at Schaudt Tulsa Funeral Service, 5757 S Memorial Dr, Tulsa, OK 74145. Esther's family will be present during visitation from 5-6PM, for anyone wishing to pay their respects.

A funeral service to honor the life of Esther will be held at 11AM on Saturday, May 20, 2023 at Cedar Ridge Christian Church, 4010 W New Orleans St, Broken Arrow, OK 74011.

For anyone unable to physically attend, Cedar Ridge Church will be live-streaming Esther's service through their website. If you are having technical difficulties getting to the link to work, please contact Cedar Ridge Church directly at (918) 254-0621. Please note the live-stream will not be available until the service begins at 11AM on Saturday. The link: 

Internment will follow immediately after the service at Floral Haven Cemetery, 6500 S 129th E Ave, Broken Arrow, OK 74012.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Hope Center of Tulsa at Cedar Ridge Christian Church, 4010 W. New Orleans St., Broken Arrow, OK 74011, the counseling center founded by Esther.

The family would like to give thanks to her caregivers, Gabrielle, Tina, Sheri, Cindy, and Brenda who provided such love and care to Esther and her family during the last few years.

Arrangements are entrusted to Schaudt Tulsa Funeral Service, 5757 S Memorial Dr, Tulsa, OK 74145.

Family and friends may leave kind words of comfort, special memories and condolences to the family online at

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Esther Lily Custer, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Public Viewing/Visitation

Friday, May 19, 2023

5:00 - 7:00 pm (Central time)

Schaudt's Tulsa Funeral Service Chapel

5757 South Memorial Drive, Tulsa, OK 74145

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Saturday, May 20, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)


Click to watch

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Saturday, May 20, 2023

12:30 - 1:00 pm (Central time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Visits: 16

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the
Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Service map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

Send Flowers

Send Flowers

Plant A Tree

Plant A Tree