Gary P. Custer
Gary P. Custer was the founder, publisher and editor of East Village Magazine for 39 years from 1976 to his death in January, 2015. Living much of his life in Flint, Gary attended old Walker Elementary, Whittier Middle School and graduated from Flint Central High School in 1960. A photojournalism graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he served in the U.S. Navy from February,1968 to May. 1971. He was stationed off Vietnam and in Japan.
East Village Magazine was Gary’s life passion. For decades, from his small unmarked office on Second Street in Flint, he produced a quality neighborhood publication with an all volunteer staff. He mentored and taught journalism practices to dozens, if not hundreds, of young reporters over the years.
His photojournalism degree was immensely important and formative to him. His aesthetic was elegant and artistic, and he highly valued (and ceaselessly critiqued) the black and white photographs provided from the beginning by his brother, Edwin D. Custer.
He also believed in the power of good writing and great neighborhood stories. Although his writers were never paid, he had a way of extracting the best from them and insisted on superior quality and high ethical standards.
He asked little and gave much to our community. His ashes were placed at the Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly, but we believe that his heart and spirit are still in that office on Second Street and in the hearts of the people of Flint to whom he devoted his singular and inimitable work.
Jan Worth-Nelson started writing the back-page “Village Life” column ten years ago after being harassed for years by EVM founder and publisher Gary Custer. When he died in January, 2015, she agreed to take on the “jan-of-all-trades” role of EVM editor. She is coming full circle. A native Ohioan with a journalism degree from Kent State University, she worked as a newspaper reporter in Southern California for five years before joining the U.S. Peace Corps. On returning from that assignment in the Kingdom of Tonga, she obtained a master’s of social work from the University of Michigan and came to Flint for a job as a social worker. During her seven years in that position, she yielded to a craving to return to her writing roots, and got a master of fine arts degree in poetry from Warren Wilson College. She moved to the University of Michigan – Flint, where she taught writing for 26 years before retiring in 2013. She has lived in Flint since 1981. Her stories, essays, and poems have appeared in many magazines – most recently in The MacGuffin and Midwestern Gothic. Her 2006 novel, Night Blind, was a fictionalized account of her Peace Corps years. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Meghan Christian is a recent graduate from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in English. During her time there, she worked for the student-run newspaper, The Michigan Times. It was there that she discovered her love of words and editing. Telling Flint stories has become a passion of Meghan’s and she is excited to have to opportunity to continue to do so with EVM. In her free time, Meghan enjoys reading, writing short stories, and spending time with her boyfriend and her cat. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edwin D. Custer
Photographer, Distribution Manager, Chairman of the Board
As the artist and photographer behind our famously gorgeous cover photos, as former president of the board of the Village Information Center, and as brother of EVM founder Gary Custer, Ed plays a crucial role in keeping the legacy of EVM alive. He also is Vice President of the Central Park Neighborhood Association. A graduate of the University of Michigan Ann Arbor with BFA, MA and MLA, degrees, he was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi scholastic honorary. He is a Vietnam veteran awarded the Air Medal and the Bronze Star with oak leaf cluster. A six-decade long resident of Flint, he is a retired city planning supervisor. He is a gifted ceramist, photographer, landscape painter and sculptor.
Paul Rozycki came to teaching somewhat accidentally. He planned a career as a journalist, having worked for a daily newspaper in Illinois. He taught political science at Ball State University for two years before coming to Mott Community College in 1969 and retired recently.
He has been the “Political Pundit” for area TV stations, is a regular guest on the Tom Sumner radio program and often moderates candidate panels in the community.
He has also written several books– “Politics and Government in Michigan” (with Jim Hanley) and “A Clearer Image: The 75 year history of Mott Community College”.
Among his outside interests are photography and collecting political memorabilia.
Teddy Robertson was raised in Mill Valley, California, back when Marin County was a collection of small towns scattered over hillsides just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. She lived in Poland over four years and returned to complete a doctorate at Indiana University. Arriving in Flint in 1984, her early experience was shaped by the promise and collapse of Buick City. She has resided in Flint’s neighborhoods—the north end, Glendale Hills, Mott Park. She retired from UM-Flint as Associate Professor in History. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Columnist, Board of Trustees
Bob Thomas was made in Flint during WWII. He disappeared in San Francisco thirty-five years ago, only to reappear a decade ago as a retired resident of Central Park village where he found true love, a new home and East Village Magazine.
For the two first crucial years after his uncle’s death, Nic Custer was EVM’s managing editor, after more than 10 years as Gary’s right-hand man. Now he has pulled back a bit in his many-faceted life, but still contributes his reliable reporting, proofreading and editing. Custer has a degree in Anthropology from University of Michigan- Flint and is a Flint resident. Artistically, he has contributed to eight site-specific or verbatim projects locally, including topics of arson, emergency managers, Riverbank Park and the Flint Farmers’ Market. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Harold C. Ford
EVM Writer Harold C. Ford wrote for the Flint Voice and the Michigan Voice many years ago. He is retired from 43 years as an educator in the Beecher Community Schools, where he was the co-founder and first executive director of the Beecher Scholarship Incentive Program funded by the Ruth Mott Foundation. His return to investigative journalism is part of his stated “bucket list.” He can be reached at email@example.com.
Megan Ockert has an English degree from of the University of Michigan-Flint. As a student there, she worked with Qua, the student-run literary and fine arts magazine, eventually becoming Prose Editor.
In 2015, Megan presented her short story “Galatea” at U of M’s Critical and Creative Writing Conference hosted by Sigma Tau Delta. She enjoys reading Charles Dickens, writing fiction, and drinking draft beer.
A retired English professor from Mott Community College, former art reviewer for the Flint Journal and longtime resident of the College Cultural neighborhood, poet and memoirist Grayce Scholt provided this bio:
I’ve been writing poems for as long as I can remember–and at age 90 that is a very long time. So it goes without saying, many of my poems are nostalgic, recalling pertinent moments in my life. But my love of all natural things–animals, especially–account for much of my work, which often verges on the spiritual. My life-long interest in creating art has produced ceramics, in particular, but other media as well. I am grateful for whatever creative gifts I might have, and to East Village Magazine for the opportunity to share them with others.
Danielle E. Ward
Danielle E. Ward is the copy editor for EVM and has an editing and proofreading business. She is also a nationally certified sign language interpreter and published author.
When not on the go, Danielle can be found spending time with her family, volunteering with local organizations, reading or engaging in board games with family and friends.
Danielle enjoys most sports and activities such as public speaking and outdoor adventures, including skydiving and zip lining. She loves to travel as well, to wherever her passport and airline ticket will take her.
For more information or to reach out to Danielle visit www.danielleelyse.com
Andrew (Drew) Keast
Born and raised in Lapeer, Andrew Keast settled in Flint’s Grand Traverse neighborhood with his wife in 2014, having returned from abroad only a few months earlier after several years of teaching English, primarily in Korea.Now a member of the magazine’s writing staff, he came to East Village in order to immerse himself in the local community and contribute to its culture – and to learn through practice about investigation, writing and publication.
Ted tends to EVM’s infrastructure and takes care of “problems.” He also does the magazine’s layout and cheers up the editor. Ted is a graduate of Amherst College and a former Peace Corps Volunteer (Turkey) and Washington staff member. He was also the founder and CEO of the Education for Involvement Corporation, a nonprofit District of Columbia think tank and training organization. In addition to his EVM work, Ted is the CEO of Hollywood Awards.