Honoring Tradition.
Celebrating Life.

Dr. Luther Dease

January 9, 1935 - September 7, 2018
Roswell, GA



Saturday, September 22, 2018
11:00 AM EDT
Philip Chapel AME Church
2145 Dyson St
Muskegon Heights, MI 49444
(231) 722-2859


At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

Scholarship Fund of the local NAACP Chapter

Life Story / Obituary


A man of deep beliefs in a sound closeness with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, Dr. Luther Roseman Dease devoted his life to serving others. He accomplished so many things of which to be proud, but his greatest source of pride and joy was found in his beloved family. Strong-willed and hardworking, he was an active member of the community he loved and mentored many young people over the years. Dr. Dease fulfilled every role as a husband, father, educator, and citizen with conviction and honor. Although he will be deeply missed, he leaves behind countless memories to touch the lives of his loved ones forever.

Looking back on the 1930s, it is difficult to recall much of anything that wasn’t affected by the Great Depression. There were few jobs and a soaring unemployment rate that left countless American families without homes. Despite these tough times, Mr. King William and Mrs. Ruth Roseman Dease celebrated with great joy the arrival of their newborn baby boy, Luther on January 9, 1935, in Yazoo City, Mississippi. Joining his older brother, Billy, his birth brought his parents much happiness and promise during such trying times.

Growing up in Jackson, Mississippi, he had a humble beginning. Sadly, his father died by the time he was twelve leaving him and his brother and mother to live with his aunts and grandfather. He attended Jim Hill Elementary and Lanier High School where he played the clarinet. Graduating with the Class of 1952, Luther set off to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Art Education from Jackson State University. While there, he crossed the burning sands of Upsilon Epsilon chapter into Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. which led to Dease becoming a founder member of Theta Nu chapter in Muskegon Heights and decades of brotherhood earning him his 50th-year pin! Transferring to Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri he graduated and worked various jobs before settling in Charlotte, North Carolina as an art teacher at York Road Middle School. It was here in North Carolina that he met the woman of his dreams, Johnsie Yongue, while attending church. Later, they met as peers in an educational setting and he asked her to accompany him to a local play. With plans to relocate to Muskegon after accepting new teaching positions with Muskegon Heights Public Schools, the happy couple joined in marriage on August 24, 1961, at the Seventh St. Presbyterian Church in Charlotte. There was no time for a honeymoon as they had to attend meetings in Muskegon to kick off the new school year the very next day! Luther’s employment in the Muskegon Heights School District was rewarding as an elementary teacher, middle school art teacher, counselor, and after-school basketball coach.

Together he and Johnsie welcomed three wonderful children into their hearts; Luther II, Tisha, and Traci. They had a warm and happy home. As a father, he was very active in their lives. During this time, Luther continued his education by studying at Michigan State University and earning his Master of Arts and Doctorate from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. He was offered an opportunity to study under the Mott’s Grant abroad, however, he decided not to accept due to the timing of several other events in his life. By now he was accustomed to the Michigan winters and loved to take the kids sledding and treasured the Michigan shoreline in the summers. Sharing common breaks during the educational year allowed them to travel extensively as a family. Each spring & summer they’d pack their Coachman van and head out to historical areas in the United States. During these years, Luther was also active as the Assistant Director with Upward Bound, a program at Western Michigan University for high achieving students with low economics. Held in the summertime, Upward Bound became a part of their childhood where he was known to take them with him to work to interact with the older kids. Later as the program’s director, it grew to be so successful that he was invited to provide testimony of the effectiveness of the program before the United States House Subcommittee on Post -Secondary Education. As a direct result of his testimony funding was renewed for all Upward Bound Programs across the US. The WMU program was the most successful one in the whole country and was most certainly a highlight in Luther’s career. When each new school year started, however, Luther was invested in his children’s education. He loved to quiz them at the dinner table about current events or geography and shared in their every success. Mealtime was important to him, especially breakfast and dinner. Breakfasts were his specialty where he was known to whip up a batch of pancakes, eggs, bacon, and sliced oranges! As a family, they attended Philip Chapel AME Church in Muskegon Heights. He and Johnsie were active in their church and raised each of their children with a strong Christian faith.

Later, he was hired as Director of the Regional Educational Center at Muskegon Area Intermediate School District (MAISD). His responsibilities as the Director of Media and Technology encompassed a total of eleven school districts. After retiring from the educational sector, Luther continued to be active in the Muskegon community and held numerous positions as a member, officer, and volunteer with the church, community, civic and social organizations. Luther’s artistic talent allowed his works to appear in art galleries, residential properties, schools, and businesses. His artwork has received awards and honorary mention.

Luther shared a vast array of special interests over the years. In addition to his art, he enjoyed table tennis and photography. He was exceptional at table tennis leading him to earn several trophies in Muskegon as well as in a national competition held in Detroit. Retirement afforded Luther time to enjoy working in his yard, shopping at the Farmer’s Market, adding to his African American History stamp collection, grilling out, and making homemade ice cream! Yet above all, he cherished the time he spent with those he loved, including Troy, his son-in-law, who he loved as a son and his grandchildren. He loved to share fun activities & his sense of humor, offer them his advice, and encourage their every endeavor. He treasured every holiday and looked forward to sharing in the family traditions including having oysters for breakfast! Affectionate and giving, there was no doubt that he loved his family dearly! Dr. Dease was highly respected as an educator and touched countless lives during his lifetime. He will be fondly remembered for his vibrant personality, his commitment to the educational realm, and his unconditional love.

Dr. Luther Roseman Dease transitioned from this world on September 7, 2018. Survivors include his ever-loving wife of fifty-seven years, Johnsie Y. Dease of Roswell, GA; adoring adult children; Luther R. Dease, II of Philadelphia, PA, Tisha Y. Dease of Atlanta, GA, and Traci Dease-Johnson (Troy) of Roswell, GA; three blessed grandchildren; Troy Dease Johnson of Roswell, GA, Roseman Luther Dease of Grand Haven, MI and Thai Morgan Johnson of Roswell, GA; granddog, Chewy; devoted brother: William King Dease, Sr. (Barbara) of Jackson, MS; supportive sister-in-law, Gloria Yongue McClure (Donald) of Potomac, MD and caring brother-in-law, Joseph Henry Yongue Sr. of Durham, NC; nieces; Mitzi Dease Paige (James) of Jackson, MS and Christina Yongue of Greensboro, NC; nephews Donald McClure (Gloria) of Silver Spring, MD, William Dease, II (Trinette) of Jacksonville, FL, Duane McClure (Bonita) of Raleigh, NC, Andre McClure of Fort Washington, MD, and Joel Yongue (Adrian) of Charlotte, NC. He is further survived by a host of great nieces and great nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 22, 2018, at 11:00 am at Philip Chapel AME Church in Muskegon Heights, MI. In lieu of flowers, a contribution may be made to the scholarship fund of the local NAACP chapter.