Rockwell Lewis “Wes” Deaton, Jr. ’74

Rockwell Lewis “Wes” Deaton, Jr. ’74, of Davidson, N.C., died on July 26, 2012, after a valiant two and a half year fight against pancreatic cancer. Deaton was born at Lowrance Hospital in Mooresville, N.C, on Aug. 18, 1952, to Rockwell Lewis Deaton ’39 and Eugenia Howard Deaton. His delivery by Dr. James Woods ’18 gave him a strong connection to Davidson from birth. He was preceded in death by his younger brother, Francis Eugene Deaton, his father, and his mother. During his young life in Davidson, he was the organist at Davidson Methodist Church. He attended Davidson, receiving an A.B. degree in music in 1974, focusing his talent on the organ and studying with Wilmer Hayden Welsh. He went on to study the organ and piano at the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, earning his master degree in music in 1976. His major teachers there were the world famous recitalists Cherry Rhodes and Donald Southerland. After moving to New York City in the fall of 1976, he did post-graduate studies with Calvin Hampton at Calvary Episcopal Church. This led to recitals in New York, Houston, Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Davidson, among many other places. In addition to Deaton’s work in advertising, he played for numerous churches, such as St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Great Neck, N.Y.; St. Philip and St. James Episcopal Church in Lake Success, N.Y., which served as the original chapel for the United Nations; and St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in Woodhaven, N.Y., where he also co-designed the new organ and performed the dedication recital. Deaton’s career in advertising took him around the world, as he climbed through the ranks of media departments at Scali, McCabe, Sloves; Geers Gross; and Publicis New York, where he was the senior vice president, media director, with oversight responsibilities for all the company’s accounts. Among his major and varied accounts were Polo Ralph Lauren, Nikon, Sharp Electronics, the Movie Channel, Nickelodeon, Lea and Perrins, Paloma Picasso and Giorgio Armani fragrances, and Lancôme. He felt privileged to participate in the launch teams for Nintendo, Lancôme’s Trésor, and L’Oreal Skin Care in the United States. Deaton was one of 15 industry professionals featured in the 1994 20th anniversary trade campaign for People magazine. He was pictured in white tie and tails playing a miniature piano. As a Davidson student in the early 70s, he was involved in the Davidson Community Players and was stage manager for a number of productions for founder and director Connie Welsh. Ms. Welsh even insisted that he learn the part of the preacher in The Crucible in one afternoon the day before final dress, just in case she needed him. In New York, Deaton maintained this interest in the arts. He was the accompanist and performer for an off-off Broadway production at the Performing Garage of the first medieval morality play to be written down, Perseverance. He was the summer organist for the Church of the Transfiguration, often called the Little Church around the Corner, which was a safe haven for theater people. Deaton became friends with many famous performers during that time. Throughout his adult life, Deaton was an active participant in the nonprofit world. In New York, he was a member of the board of directors of Friends In Deed, an organization dedicated to the emotional, spiritual, and psychological needs of anyone affected by a life-threatening illness, primarily AIDS and cancer. Davidson always remained important to Deaton, no matter where work took him. He and his longtime partner, Jon Guttman, visited Deaton’s parents several times a year. Jon’s son, Jeffrey ’98, even graduated from Davidson, and Rock and Eugenia acted as his local grandparents. Deaton and Jon moved to Davidson in summer 2000 after Deaton’s father died. They needed to care for Deaton’s aging mother. They quickly became involved in local organizations and established a marketing company, In~Motion Marketing. In 2008, Deaton became a business counselor for the Small Business and Technology Development Center, a statewide presence with an office at UNC Charlotte. During his tenure there, Deaton worked with a variety of sizes and types of business clients, getting to know people across the state. He was happy to receive his LEED AP Certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, Accredited Professional) in June 2009, allowing him to work more actively with clients to develop green products, services, and buildings. Even today, Deaton is the only LEED AP employee statewide of the SBTDC. Because music was never far from Deaton’s thoughts, he served in substitute and interim organist positions after moving to Davidson, leading to a five-year position as music director and organist at Derita Presbyterian Church. Since September 2011, he served as an assistant organist at Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Cornelius, N.C. Deaton is survived by Jon Robert Guttman, P.O. Box 153, Davidson, NC 28036, his partner of 31 years and husband since July 9, 2010. They were married in Westport, Conn., to celebrate the 30th anniversary of their first meeting. Also, Deaton is survived by their children, Jeffrey Guttman ’98 (Ellyn) and Amy Guttman Sutter (Keith); grandchildren, Zoey and Maddox Guttman; his mother-in-law, Irene Guttman; and beloved in-laws, cousins, and many friends. The family requests that you honor Deaton by making a donation to the Music Scholarship Fund at Davidson College, P.O. Box 7174, Davidson, NC 28035-7174.