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By all accounts, DeAndree Watson had a bright future ahead of him. The 30-year old legislative aid to the Detroit City Council even dreamed of being elected president one day. But those aspirations came to a screeching halt July 5 when Watson was found dead in his car outside the Willow Creek Apartments in Westland. Shortly after discovering Watson, who had been shot to death, Westland Police found a second man, Deontez Jones, dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in an apartment in the complex. Police, who are still investigating, believe the two deaths are connected.
Watson was a Detroit native who loved his city. He was the president of Central Student Government at the University of Michigan his senior year. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science in 2012. Watson started his tenure with the Detroit City Council as in interim in Councilman Charles Pugh’s office. After Pugh left office, Watson went on to work as a policy analyst for Councilman James Tate.
“DeAndree was the epitome of a leader and was often the first person to volunteer whenever he was needed,” Tate said in a statement. “In the seven years we worked together, I had the pleasure of witnessing him mature from a previously outwardly shy intern into a very opinionated young man who was very active in progressive social and political issues. He spoke often about change and realized the way to transform many of the ills that have gripped our society was through public policy.”
In a Facebook post, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan called Watson, who was headed back to UofM to attend law school in the fall, “one of Detroit’s rising leaders with a deep commitment to public service and the city he called home.”
Watson greatly admired
Dawan Glover first met Watson when the two were both working in Pugh’s office.
“He was very quiet and shy in the beginning,” Glover recalled. “But then he began to come out of his bubble. He was progressive. He went deep into his policy. … He was a policy guru.”
Glover said the possibilities for Watson’s future were endless.
“You hear people say that he had a bright future or a promising future ahead of him, and those words should not be taken lightly. He did everything he needed to be done to get to where he was. He could have been a judge or the mayor. He was going to be the top of whatever it was he was going to do.”
Nguvu Tsare, a field organizer for the Michigan Democratic Party who met Watson through the New Leaders Council, a group for progressive millennials, agreed.
“He literally was on track to be one of our most powerful elected officials,” Tsare said. “When I first became friends with him, he told me that his goal was to be the president of the United States. I believed him. And as his friend, we would have strategy conversations about how he was going to get there.”
Tsare praised Watson’s leadership skills.
“I’m so glad that God blessed me to be in such close proximity with such a great man, such a respected man. He was one of those leaders who knew how to lead from behind. He was very good at making you do something and then making you feel like you had come up with it on your own. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that.
“He was the best friend I ever had,” Tsare went on. “He was my brother. He was my soul mate. I really miss my friend and I’d give anything to have him back. There’s not a person who knew him wouldn’t give anything to have him back.”
There will be a memorial service for Watson this Saturday, July 18, at the Fisher Funeral Home, located at 24501 Five Mile Road in Redford Charter Township, from 3 to 6 p.m. Only 25 people will be allowed in the funeral home at a time. Masks are required.