Deatra Elise was born on May 26, 1962 in Gary, Indiana to Juanita and Edgar Hull. Deatra decided at the age of 7 to begin her walk with Christ. This was followed by her baptism and a lifetime faith journey as a member of First Baptist Church of Gary. During her 50 years of membership she participated in various activities at First Baptist Church, and was a dedicated member of the Miriam Missionary Ministry. Deatra attended Gary Roosevelt High School. After graduation, she attended The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio where she graduated with a B.A. in Journalism in 1985. For a period of time after graduation, Deatra worked for WCMH, NBC 5 Columbus as a Field Reporter in the Community Services News Division. Later, Deatra worked as the Media Coordinator for the State of Ohio, Office of the Governor Richard Celeste. When she returned home to Indiana, Deatra pursued her M.A.in Organizational Communication at Purdue University. Her graduate school advisors saw her talent and creative teaching style while she was a Teaching Assistant in her Master's Program, and urged her to purse a Doctoral Program in Communication. In 2002, Deatra received her Ph.D. in Communication Studies with a Concentration in Rhetorical Criticism and Communication Education from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan. Deatra's academic pursuits led her to touch the lives of hundreds of students during her career that took her from her Purdue University, Wayne State University, St. Cloud University, Northern Kentucky University, Davenport University, and finally Elmhurst College. Deatra was a dedicated Professor in the department of Communication and Media Department at Elmhurst College, until her passing. At Elmhurst, she founded and served as co-advisor to the Elmhurst chapter of Lambda Pi Eta – Communication Honor Society, received the I Am Elmhurst award, was named a Student Government Association – Unsung Hero, and received a Faculty Appreciation Award from Sigma Kappa Sorority. Deatra left a legacy in the students that she touched along this life journey. She did more than simply teach-she showed a deep care and concern for students' well-being. Whether it was purchasing textbooks, buying groceries, providing train fare to get to and from class, getting shoes for job interviews, writing letters of recommendation, offering career advice, or creating a safe space for students to truly be themselves, Deatra was a constant, positive presence in her students' lives. Deatra was so much more than her academic career, and never wanted to be defined by the letters behind her name. She was a dedicated mother to her daughter Jessica Marie, from a previous marriage. In the midst of her academic journey, she made it a point to always be present in Jessica's life even if that meant driving the highways and byways every weekend from Detroit or Highland Heights, Kentucky. Deatra gave Jessica her love of books, politics, learning, teaching, and crafting. Deatra found the man who was meant to be her true love and life partner and on May 24, 1999, she was united in Holy Matrimony to Wayne Morgan. Throughout their 20 years of marriage they shared a love of music, politics, and dogs. Their love of music led them to attend various concerts including several Dave Koz shows and George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic's Final Tour. Wayne always admired her drive and ability to move from creating content for course work or academic conferences, then move effortlessly into reading The Muller Report or watching an episode of "Say Yes to the Dress." Deatra was a voracious reader of many genres of literature including fiction, non-fiction, mystery, and even a little romance. She had a passion for scrutinizing and analyzing political affairs, and therefore dedicated time to not only being an avid viewer of MSNBC and CNN, but listened to Mark Thompson's Make it Plain and Danielle Moodie-Mills' Woke AF on Sirus Radio. She presented at numerous academic conferences including The National Communication Association Conference, Central States Communication Annual Convention, the National Conference on Race & Ethnicity in Higher Education, and the Lilly Conference on Teaching. She has also published works in the following anthologies: Performing Antiracists Pedagogy in Rhetoric, Writing, and Communication, and Challenging Images of Women in the Media: Reinventing Women's Lives.
Deatra lived her life in bold and beautiful ways in spite of battling Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for more than 25 years. Deatra was a MS Warrior until her sudden passing on Sunday, November 24, 2019. She was preceded in death by grandfather James Jewell, sister Joyce Marie Hull, grandmother Katie Mae Jewell, aunt Alma Brumfield, father Edgar Hull, uncle James Jewell, and mother Juanita Marie Hull. She leaves to mourn her passing and carry on her legacy her loving husband Wayne Morgan of Gary, her devoted daughter Jessica Marie Sullivan-Wilson and her caring son-in-law Robert M. Wilson Jr., both of Chicago, IL, a host of cousins, loving, lifelong sister friends, friends and acquaintances, the campus Community of Elmhurst College, former students, and a loved and spoiled dog Tuxedo Maximillian. A Celebration of Deatra's life will be held Thursday, December 5, 2019 at 11:00 am, Visitation/Family Hour 9 – 11:00 a.m., at First Baptist Church, 626 W. 21st Ave, Interment at Oak Hill Cemetery.