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Remembering Patty Rouse

She was considered an icon in the Columbia community.

The news of the death of Patricia "Patty" Rouse, co-founder of Enterprise Community Partners and the widow of Columbia visionary James Rouse,  brought an outpouring of accolades from those who knew and worked with her. She died on Monday at the age of 85.

Rouse's memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Christ Episcopal Church on Oakland Mills Road in Columbia.

Rouse’s official obituary listed her cause of death as Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. She had also struggled with Alzheimer’s disease for the past 10 years.

Raised in Norfolk Va., Rouse graduated Magna Cum Laude from Sweet Briar College in 1948. When she met Jim Rouse, she was working on a graduate degree in urban studies at Old Dominion University, but discontinued her studies to move to Columbia and marry Jim Rouse in 1974.

Her obituary noted she was a supporter of the arts in Columbia—attending film screenings at Howard Community College, and plays and choral concerts at the Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts at Wilde Lake High School. She enjoyed fishing and walking around Wilde Lake with her husband.

After her death, members of the Columbia community remembered her life and work.

"Patty’s inspiration and generosity touched the lives of so many in the affordable housing and community development industry," wrote Enterprise in a statement released Tuesday morning. "The genuine care and compassion she exuded for the individuals and families served by the organization created a standard that Enterprise strives to uphold today."

Rouse also had served as a lifetime member of the Board of Trustees of Enterprise.

“I think she was a special person,” said Padraic Kennedy, Columbia Association’s first president and a next-door neighbor to the Rouses in Wilde Lake, according to the Baltimore Sun, “She was a great lady and a good friend.”

Barbara Kellner, manager of the Columbia Archives, commented on Patch that Rouse was key in helping to preserve the documents of Jim Rouse on the founding of Columbia.

Kellner said she remembers Patty Rouse's generous spirit, work ethic, kindness and devotion to keeping alive the memory of Jim Rouse and his work.

On Twitter, local officials and organizations, expressed their condolences.

“Saddened to learn of the passing of Patty Rouse, a committed housing advocate,” wrote County Executive Ken Ulman.

“I had the opportunity to work at the Enterprise Foundation in college and remember the great passion of Patty Rouse,” wrote Howard County Councilmember Courtney Watson, “She made a difference.”

Maryland Citizens for the Arts wrote, “MCA joins the entire Maryland Arts Community mourning the loss of Patricia 'Patty' Rouse.” And the Columbia Foundation wrote, “It’s a sad time for Howard County. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of Patty Rouse.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-District 7, released a statement Tuesday saying, “Patty Rouse was a visionary who, along with her husband, saw a time when all Americans would have a home they could call their own… Though Jim, and now Patty, have passed, Columbia will remain as a lasting testament to their vision of creating affordable, livable homes.”

On Patch, thoughtful commenters remembered Rouse as a truly caring person.

Helen Szybala remembered when Patty and Jim Rouse took her kids to an Orioles game, a passion of the Rouses. “I will always treasure their friendship and mentoring.”

Steve Kelly-Judd remembered how she would save cocktail napkins from airlines “because ‘It seemed like a shame to waste them!’”

“Thank you, Patty, for all you did for Columiba, for affordable housing and for your commitment to strong, diverse and vibrant communities,” wrote Kate Barker Swindell.

Rouse is survived by a sister, two sons, a daughter and nine grandchildren.

We invite readers to share their memories of Rouse in the comment section.

Gayle Sternheim March 10, 2012 at 11:51 PM
Gayle Sternheim has fond memories of Patty as a friend and as a Potter at The Visual Arts Center in Columbia, MD. She stood out as a caring person and as an artist who earned the respect of her teacher's and classmates.

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