Editor’s Note: Remarkable Women is part of a nationwide Nexstar Media initiative to honor the influence that women have had on public policy, social progress and the quality of life. This is the fourth of 4 weekly stories.
FOREST GROVE, Ore. (KOIN) — Alice Custodio was born in Grants Pass but had her first taste of the limelight as a child in Modesto, California when she won a yo-yo competition. That took her to the 1962 national championships.
“There were only two girls in the contest. And I remember this to this day, when I came in third, they said, ‘Oh good. We wanted a girl to place,'” Custodio told KOIN 6 News. “So, you know, when you look back at it now, that’s a little bit chauvinistic, but I placed and it was fun.”
She lived in California until she was 16 before moving back to Oregon. All these years later, she is still on the move.
“I’ve known Alice for several years, and I can say I’ve never met such a selfless, devoted and empathetic individual,” said Frankie Rigert, who nominated her to be the KOIN Remarkable Woman. “She is a visionary and has spent countless hours volunteering in the community.”
Most recently, she helped put together the Veterans Room at the Elks Lodge in Forest Grove. Before Alice got involved that was a storage room.
“We honor those who serve,” she said. “If there’s something that’s concerning the veterans, we’re going to put it in here and stuff because that’s who we are.”
She’s also done quite a bit to help kids and even used the yo-yo as a teaching tool in Little League.
“The kids thought I was crazy because I brought yo-yos out and I said, ‘Learn to do the yo-yo,'” she said. “Then you could catch the ball with your (baseball) glove with your left hand because you’re chasing a yo-yo.”
It must have worked. She coached at Powell Little League at Seward Park in Portland. “And my minor league team went 28-0. We were undefeated for two years.”
Alice Custodio even coached overseas for a time.
“I was married to a military man. We were overseas in SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers of Europe) in Belgium for three-and-a-half years,” she said. “They needed Little League coaches. They needed basketball coaches. I coached a girls basketball team.”
She still finds a way to help local kids. With help from volunteers they put together bags with food for Forest Grove students in need. A school district coordinator sent her an email that let her know she’s “counted almost 1200 backpacks packed this year.”
There is also the veterans lunch she helps with 3 times a week. She is a selfless volunteer with a good attitude about helping others.
“When I’m infectious about something, the other people get infectious except for COVID,” she said, laughing. “I’m one of so many people, you know. Forest Grove is a small community, but there is so much need in here that one person can’t do it all. It takes an entire community to work.”
And it’s work that Alice is happy to do.
For the 4th year, Alice “will be the OSEA state chairman for the Elks drug awareness program,” Rigert said. “With her tremendous energy and drive and the grant money supplied by the Elks national foundation, Alice has made significant contributions to the Forest Grove community.”
Alice Custodio said she is still learning and learning, she said, should never stop.
“It’s not a failure because you haven’t learned to do it right,” she said. “So you have to keep at it. That’s what I have always told the kids: you didn’t fail, you just didn’t succeed as well as you needed to. And so it takes practice and everything takes practice.”
Her latest things to learn: either how to play an autoharp or mandolin and making her own jewelry.
Remarkable Women is part of a nationwide Nexstar Media initiative to honor the influence that women have had on public policy, social progress and the quality of life.
Throughout Women’s History Month, KOIN will highlight four local women who inspire, lead and forge the way for other women. It’s not just about one day or one month — it’s about what they do, day-in and day-out.
One woman will be named Oregon’s Woman of the Year and win a $1,000 donation to her charity of choice. From the more than 100 local winners, one woman will be selected and named Nexstar Media Group’s Woman of the Year