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Patty Rouse, Co-Founder of Enterprise and Wife of James Rouse, Dies At 85

The Columbia woman will be remembered as a leader in the affordable housing industry.

Patty Rouse, wife of the late James Rouse, co-founder of Enterprise Community Partners Inc. and a leading voice in the Columbia community, died Monday at age 85.

The news was confirmed by a spokesperson at Enterprise in Columbia, which has offices throughout the country, and through an email sent to Enterprise employees notifying them of Rouse's death.

Rouse and her husband James, the developer to fruition in 1967, founded Enterprise in 1982 with the goal of helping every American live in affordable homes. Since then, the company has invested more than $11 billion in equity, grants and loans to help build or preserve nearly 300,000 affordable homes, according to Enterprise's website.

Terri Ludwig, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. president and CEO, said Jim and Patty Rouse's "legendary vision launched a national organization that is marking 30 years as the leading provider of the development capital and expertise it takes to create decent, affordable homes and rebuild communities."

"Enterprise is forever indebted to Patty, our visionary co-founder, for her unwavering commitment and the groundbreaking legacy she has left the affordable housing and community development industry," Ludwig said in a statement.

Enterprise officials did not provide details Monday on the cause of Rouse's death or where it occurred.

James Rouse, who died in 1996, was the founder of the Rouse Company and the leading figure behind the planning of the city of Columbia. The couple married in 1974 and shortly after moved from Norfolk, VA, to a house overlooking Wilde Lake. 

In an interview with the Baltimore Sun in November of 2007, Patty Rouse said, "Jim Rouse liked the simple things in life. He did not want to live in a mansion. He wanted to live where people live; he didn't want to be separated from people."

She added: "When Jim died ... my friends in Norfolk said, 'Aren't you coming back home? I said, 'I am home.'"

John Milton Wesley March 06, 2012 at 03:25 PM
He believed "things that ought to be can be." She proved that things that can be (if nourished) will not only survive but endure. As a result, when the history of revitalized inner cities in America is written the fingerprints of James and Patty Rouse will be all over it, and rightly so. John Milton Wesley
Helen Szablya March 06, 2012 at 03:27 PM
Patty and Jim were loving, compassionate people. I will always treasure their friendship and mentoring. My children, Anna and Alex Meiners remember them fondly as wonderful role models -- took the kids to an Orioles game once that was a highlight for them. I shared five splendid years working as Director of Public Affairs at The Enterprise Foundation and worked side-by-side with Patty and Jim as the organization grew into the nationally acclaimed leader it became. We will all miss their presence in our lives.
Steve Kelly-Judd March 06, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Patty and Jim were a truly unique and wonderful couple. I remember at their modest single-family home on the banks of Wilde Lake they had one television. A 13" black & white from the 1970's. They kept it behind a couch and only brought it out when there was some particular news or event they wanted to watch. The living room was lined with photo albums and old scrapbooks. They were always wonderful hosts and made everyone feel welcome and at ease. The foundation that they created after Jim retired from the Rouse Company was an amazing and happy place in it’s early years. Most of us there felt like part of their extended family. There were many celebrations, parties and the most casual atmosphere you can imagine. Patty gave custom Christmas ornaments to all of the staff every year at the Staff Christmas Party they hosted. She commissioned beautiful ceramic bowls, cups and other objects for staff anniversaries. Each year They threw a big crab feast/picnic for all of the staff. Her work for the poor and disadvantaged was tireless. She was the queen of community outreach always striving to be as inclusive as humanly possible. She saved cocktail napkins from airlines and used them for serving beverages at home because "It seemed like a shame to waste them!" She was terrifyingly organized in a frenetic way and could dig back through filing cabinets, scrapbooks and boxes to find almost anything you requested. She will be missed.
Kate Barker Swindell March 06, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Thank you, Patty, for all you did for Columbia, for affordable housing and for your commitment to strong, diverse and vibrant communities. I am always grateful to be a Columbia Kid.
jj March 06, 2012 at 06:28 PM
A wonderful lady. They both were so very nice to all the people of Columbia ----- living the American dream through hard work,faith in family,and a love of community. The least we can do is strive to keep Columbia a safe, clean, and wholesome place for honest, hardworking men and women can raise a family.

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