Libby Rouse has passed away at 96 years old.
As the quiet, reflective, and strong-minded first wife of Jim Rouse, she helped shape what Columbia is today, seeing him through its conception and founding. In fact, it was her dislike of the “piecemeal” fashion in which suburbia grew, thus isolating her – “I had to drive the children everywhere they went” – that helped inspire the vision of a planned and connected community. She advocated for a town that “was more rational than the suburbs and worked better for families and children” just at the time Jim Rouse was thinking hypothetically about a bold, defining new project.
Libby Rouse also impressed upon her husband the strong religious and egalitarian ideals we see reflected in our community’s long-standing faith organizations and the incredible diversity Columbia has fostered from Day One. In applying those ideals to city-building, she said “[Jesus] would want families close to one another … He would want people to have needed privacy, yet he would want no exclusiveness in communities.” And, as a strong supporter of the arts, she spoke about a community that would allow “each individual to grow to his fullest, most creative uniqueness.”
Today, Columbia and the Rouse family lost a pillar. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, and our thanks to Libby Rouse for her invaluable contributions to our community.
In her debt and in her memory, we carry forward these ideals: respect for family and community, love of the arts and appreciation for creative thought, and the courage to be visionary.