Lewis was born at Lowrance Hospital in Mooresville on Aug. 18, 1952, to Rockwell Lewis and Eugenia Howard Deaton. His delivery by Dr. James Woods 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. After graduating from North Mecklenburg High School, he attended Davidson College, receiving an AB 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’s 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 Lewis’ work in advertising, he played for numerous churches, such as St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Great Neck, New York; St. Philip and St. James Episcopal Church in Lake Success, New York, 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.
Lewis’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.
Lewis 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 College student in the early 1970s, 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, Lewis 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. Lewis became friends with many famous performers during that time.
Throughout his adult life, Lewis was an active participant in the non-profit 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 Lewis, no matter where work took him. He and his longtime partner, Jon Guttman, visited Lewis’s parents several times a year. Jon’s son, Jeffrey, even graduated from Davidson College and Rock and Eugenia acted as his local grandparents.
Lewis and Jon moved to Davidson in summer 2000 after Lewis’ father died. They needed to care for Lewis’s aging mother. They quickly became involved in local organizations and established a marketing company, In~Motion Marketing. In 2008, Lewis became a Business Counselor for the Small Business and Technology Development Center, a statewide presence with an office at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. During his tenure there, Lewis 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, Lewis is the only LEED AP employee statewide of the SBTDC.
Because music was never far from Lewis’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.
Lewis is survived by Jon Robert Guttman, 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, Lewis is survived by their children, Jeffrey Guttman and his wife, Ellyn; Amy Guttman Sutter and her husband Keith; grandchildren Zoey and Maddox Guttman; his mother-in-law, Irene Guttman; and beloved in-laws, cousins, and many friends.
The family would like to give special thanks to Maurice & Carole Eury (on the Howard side of the family) and PR and Sherry Deaton (on the Deaton side of the family); Lewis’s supportive, thoughtful and ever-creative yoga group at the Lake Norman YMCA; George McAllister and the Charlotte staff of the SBTDC; Dr. Ronnie T. Beamon and the staff of the Davidson Clinic; Dr. Bryan Connell, PhD., Connell PsychologalServices; Gary Frenette and the staff of the Carolinas Hematology-Oncology Associates; Jordan Thompson, RN, and the staff of Hospice and Palliative Care Lake Norman; and Dr. Bill and Margo Williams.
The Service to Celebrate the Life of Lewis Deaton and the Resurrection of the Body will be held at Davidson College Presbyterian Church, officiated by the Reverends Linda Bowman, Didi Wayland, and Elizabeth Marie Melchionna on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012 at 12:00 Noon. Those attending the Memorial Service are invited to wear the colors purple (in recognition of pancreatic cancer) or yellow (the universal color of life). Receiving will be at the DCPC Congregation House following the service. Burial will be private at Mimosa Cemetery.
Lewis always believed these words by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
He also understood that Thomas Campbell had it right when he said, “To live in hearts we leave behind is to never die.”
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you honor Lewis by making a donation to the charity of your choice, or to the Music Scholarship Fund at Davidson College, P.O Box 7171, Davidson, NC 28035; or to the Music Program at Cornelius Presbyterian Church, P.O. Box 279, Cornelius, NC 28031.
James Funeral Home of Huntersville is serving the family. www.jamesfuneralhomeLKN.com