The Chanticleer

The life and love of Tatum Deason


Katie ClineEditor-in-Chief

“I’ll definitely miss JSU’s Wonder Woman,” Paris Coleman wrote on Facebook.

“Wonder Woman” is Tatum Deason, a grounds caretaker at JSU who was killed in a car accident on March 1.

Tatum Deason in her November 2012 Employee of the Month photo (photo by Steve Latham/JSU)

The Anniston Star reported that, at the time of the accident, Deason was traveling north on Alabama 9 into Centre around 8 a.m. when her vehicle left the roadway and flipped.

Following the announcement by JSU, hundreds of people expressed their condolences and shared memories of Deason on the Chanticleer’s Facebook page.

“I remember one time when she was landscaping in front of Houston Cole [Library] and she told me that she had ‘been doing this for 20 years!’” wrote Joseph Read, an accounting student at JSU. “I could tell by her words and actions what a genuine and encouraging person she was. She is missed. Let’s continue to pray for her grieving family.”

In addition to being employed by JSU since 2007, Deason was also a JSU student, and many students fondly remembered the classes they had with her.

“Tatum, in 2014 we shared multiple classes together and then 2015 came and we shared one class,” English language education student Whitney Gillespie wrote. “In that class I learned more about myself from the dialogue we held within our group. Your story and your determination to provide and help others was above and beyond. You were working full time on campus, going to school full time to finish your degree, raising your own children and then supporting sporting events often. Your love and your wisdom will be forever cherished and carried.”

On Oct. 19,2009 Confederate Roses donated to JSU by Mr. Ralph Haggarty, were planted on the President’s Home lawn and near Ayers Hall. Pictured L to R are Tatum Deason, Haggarty and Steven Johnston (photo by Steve Latham/JSU).

Old friends of Deason’s spoke of Deason’s childhood and her caring heart.

“I remember becoming friends with Tatum when her mother worked with my family in the store at the crossroads,” Stacey Barnes I haven’t seen her since we were kids, many years ago. Then after many years we reconnected our friendship on here [at JSU]. My thoughts and prayers go out to her family. She was a sweet friend and I will miss her dearly.”

“I’ve known her since she was about 10 years old,” Rodney Hamby wrote. “She always had a strong but compassionate spirit taking in small animals that had fallen out of the nest or when a tree fell with young ones in it and raised them till they could fend for themselves. Truly a rare trait in this world we live in today, she will be missed.”

Deason could often be seen around campus tending to the shrubbery or handling a leaf blower and always made time to talk to students. She was honored as the JSU Employee of the Month in November 2012.

“She told me once that she doesn’t work any harder than the men, but that people weren’t used to seeing a woman do that kind of work,” Buffy Lockette, the JSU Director of Public Relations told the Star. “She looked like a Disney princess ripping a tree out of the ground. It was an empowering image. She was a little hero on campus. [Her loss is] really shocking and sad.”

Deason’s funeral was Sunday. She left behind two elementary-aged daughters, an adult son and other extended family members. The Jacksonville community has rallied around the family, and Kitty Stone Elementary School counselor Brandie Green started a Take Them a Meal page to help provide food for them in the coming weeks. Individuals or groups can sign up to deliver a homemade meal or send a delivered meal to the family. Dates range from March 7 to May 31. For more information, contact Brandie Green at

The 2012 Employees of the Month, including Deason (second from right): Michael Walker, Linda Prickett, Jennifer Evans, Tony Hulsey (2012 Employee of the Year), Kathy Matthews, Debrah Fragoso, Kerri Reese, Gina Glass, Lora Spivey, Tatum Deason and Debra James (photo by Steve Latham/JSU)