UC education allowed couple to make mark on Cincinnati

Alum John Deatrick creates engineering, art education scholarships

As a native of Defiance, Ohio, John Deatrick, CEAS ’79, says arriving in Cincinnati to attend the University of Cincinnati in 1963 felt like landing in New York City.  

He immediately fell in love with Cincinnati, its architecture and its university. Life at UC was an adventure, and Deatrick threw himself into the experience, joining the fraternity Pi Kappa Alpha and the engineering co-op program.

“Coming to Cincinnati and UC was an eye-opener,” he shares. He spent time with friends at the College-Conservatory of Music, “and it was an incredible experience visiting with all these people singing, playing the piano and instruments.”

“The co-op program was important, as was my fraternity, because I was immersed with people that were focused on making their future by learning by doing and from others.”  

Supporting his alma mater through scholarships

Group of five people in a wedding photo.

John and Linda Deatrick's 1970 wedding.

After a long, impactful career in the public sector, Deatrick returned to Cincinnati in 2022 after the death of his wife Linda Deatrick, MAE ‘74. He decided to support the place that had been a constant thread in their lives.

Grateful for his degree from the College of Engineering and Applied Science, he wanted to help support that pipeline of future civil engineers. The Deatrick Family Endowed Scholarship for Civil Engineering will support third-year students.

In honor of Linda’s career, education and master’s degree from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning (DAAP), The Deatrick Family Endowed Scholarship for DAAP will be awarded to third-year students majoring in art education. 

Deatrick says UC is responsible for his and Linda’s meeting. As a college student, he was drafted, joined the United States Navy and sent to London.

“Getting drafted and putting my professional academic career on hold for four years was an incredible blessing because I got to live in London and met my wife through UC.”

Before Deatrick traveled to London, he stopped in Cincinnati to visit friends.

“My friend Bruno had co-oped in Boston with an English woman, Nicolette Thomas. Bruno suggested I look her up. We met and she and her husband said, ‘We should fix you up with our friend, Linda.’ We went out to dinner to a Chinese restaurant and the rest is history.”

After a stint in Washington, DC, the Deatricks returned to Cincinnati and UC’s campus. Linda studied at DAAP, and for a time, John studied architectural history, tried social work, and realized through a job at the City of Cincinnati Urban Development Department that “I’ve got to go back and finish my engineering degree.”

Leaving a mark on Cincinnati

John and Linda Deatrick on the Ohio River.

The Deatricks in 2017.

A successful career followed, and Deatrick took on a broad range of duties and award-winning civic improvement projects. Past positions include Director of Transportation and Engineering for the City of Cincinnati, Deputy Director and Chief Engineer for the Washington, D.C. Department of Transportation, and Director of the Department of Public Works & Transportation, St. Mary’s County, Maryland. 

My civil engineering work at UC taught me that observation and listening to people are the most critical aspects of design.

John Deatrick, CEAS '79

Deatrick’s dream of building “big stuff” came true in Cincinnati. He led projects that are well-known to city residents — the Fort Washington Way Expressway project, The Banks project and the Cincinnati Streetcar. Between Fort Washington Way and The Banks, he worked for five years in Washington, DC, on the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, responsible for implementing all transportation components. After the Streetcar, while living in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, south of Washington, he led the department in delivering a new library, a jail addition, and its renovation with a treatment center, three district police stations and improvements to the county airport.

“My civil engineering work at UC taught me that observation and listening to people are the most critical aspects of design,” he says.

The university was equally important for Linda. She left her own mark on Cincinnati’s historic preservation and art communities. She raised funds for DAAP, obtained National Register status for the Betts-Longworth Historic District, and as Summerfair’s first executive director, created ongoing initiatives supporting local artists.

“UC fueled both our careers and not just from the book learning. It was from the people and the experiences, the whole package,” says Deatrick. “That’s why the university is so important and why I think it’s important to support it.” And that’s why his latest project is serving on the board of the Lloyd Library and Museum to help support its expansion and renovation, “to bring the incredible resources of that world-renowned independent research library and exhibit space devoted to bringing science, art and history to life.”

Featured image at top: John Deatrick. Photo/Provided.

Next Now

With its focus on innovation and impact, Next, Now: The Campaign for Cincinnati is where ambition meets action. At the University of Cincinnati and UC Health, we’re driven by next; thinking bolder and dreaming bigger to create the tomorrow we envision, today. Learn more at nextnow.uc.edu.

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