Patricia T. "Patty" Rouse
With her husband, she co-founded Enterprise Community Partners Inc.
Patricia T. "Patty" Rouse, who with her late husband, Columbia developer James W. Rouse, co-founded Enterprise Community Partners Inc. and who devoted her life to making sure that decent and affordable housing was accessible to all Americans, died from complications of Alzheimer's disease and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at Vantage House in Columbia. The Wilde Lake resident was 85. (unknown, Baltimore Sun / March 5, 2012)
The Wilde Lake resident was 85.
"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," Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, said in a statement released Tuesday.
"The goal she and Jim sought in creating Columbia, and in all their housing work, was not just achieving their dream, but of allowing others to live the American dream," he said.
The former Patricia Traugott was born and raised in Norfolk, Va., where in her youth she volunteered at a local hospital and kept watch for enemy airplanes during World War II.
After high school, she earned a bachelor's degree in British history in 1948 from Sweet Briar College. The next year, she married John F. Rixey Sr., a lawyer. They divorced in 1973.
It was a tennis game that brought Mrs. Rouse together with her future husband.
In 1973, she was working as president of the Health-Welfare Recreation Planning Council of Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Eastern Chesapeake, Va., and studying for a graduate degree in urban affairs at Old Dominion University.
In June of that year, Mr. Rouse was visiting friends in Norfolk when they called her and asked if she wanted to play tennis with their house guest. It was near the end of the semester and she was engaged with her studies.
"I said, 'I can't play tennis with anybody,'" Mrs. Rouse told The Baltimore Sun in a 1997 interview. "I have a take-home exam in public policy analysis and implementation."
The next day, she agreed to be Mr. Rouse's doubles partner.
"They saw each other over the course of the next year and discovered they had a great deal in common, despite an age difference of 12 years. Both were divorced parents. Both had a strong faith in God," observed the newspaper. "Both were concerned about the plight of American cities."
They married in 1974 and settled into their Wilde Lake home the next year. When her husband stepped down as chairman of the Rouse Co. in 1979, he was able to concentrate his efforts on building affordable housing for Americans.
After donating $1 million, he and Mrs. Rouse started the Enterprise Foundation, a nationwide nonprofit organization that used money from two profit-making subsidiaries to finance, rehabilitate and build housing for the needy in 30 cities across the country.
Their vision was that the Enterprise Foundation would also be an advocate for the urban poor.
Mr. Rouse explained in an interview with The New York Times that his work with the foundation was "by far the most important work" of his life.
While Mrs. Rouse was a co-founder and board member, she didn't immediately work for the foundation. It was in 1985 that she told her husband she wished to have a greater role with the foundation.
"I could see things that needed to be done. I said, 'I don't think you're using me the way you should.' The next week he came back and said, 'There's an office for you,'" Mrs. Rouse told The Sun in the 1997 interview.
It was Mrs. Rouse's entry into the daily operation of the Enterprise Foundation. "I wasn't equal to him," she explained in the interview. "But we were working together."