Columbus William Deen was born in Baxley, Appling County, Georgia on February 7, 1861. He was educated in the public schools of the county and began his business career in the manufacture and sale of naval stores and supplies in southeastern Georgia. In 1902, he and several other Georgia businessmen established the Jessup (GA) Banking Company. Deen became the company's first president.
As a result of his business interests, Deen became acquainted with the Carter family, which had significant interests in the lumber, phosphate, and citrus industries. In 1905, Deen joined brothers Henry B. and Leonard Carter to form the Carter Manufacturing Company. The company engaged in a wide variety of activities related to the lumber industry, including the manufacture and sale of naval stores and finished wood products. The company also had extensive real estate holdings in central Florida.
Deen moved to Lakeland shortly after becoming involved in Carter Manufacturing, perhaps at the urging of Henry B. Carter, who had built a magnificent home in Lakeland in 1904 at the corner of Lime and Massachusetts Avenues. Deen was appointed president of Citizens Bank (later First National Bank of Lakeland). He also formed a real estate partnership with Henry Carter, Carter-Deen Realty, which developed the Dixieland neighborhood and the South Lake Morton neighborhood in the first two decades of the 20th century. Deen built his own magnificent home in 1912 at the corner of Success and McDonald Avenues. Today the home is one of the finest examples of the "prairie style" of architecture extant in the city.
Deen's financial interests were broad and deep in the Lakeland area. In addition to his holdings in banking, lumber, and real estate, he owned or had an interest in the Florida Favorite Fertilizer Company, the Sand Gully Phosphate Company, the Polk County Land Mortgage Company, and the Lake Stearns Grove Company. He was also an active civic and political leader and served for a time on the Lakeland City Commission.
Deen died in Lakeland on November 28, 1927 at the age of 66.