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June 16, 2003   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
June 16, 2003

AUBURN, Ala.-- Roy Dennis Rouse, who served as dean of Auburn University's College of Agriculture and director of the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station (AAES) from 1972 to 1981, died June 11, 2003, in Auburn.

A native of Andersonville, Ga., Rouse was born Sept. 20, 1920, and attended Georgia Southwestern College, then earned bachelor's and master's degrees, specializing in soil chemistry, from the University of Georgia. In 1949, he received his doctorate in soil chemistry and plant pathology from Purdue University, then joined Auburn's Department of Agronomy and Soils as an assistant professor.

Rouse joined the U.S. Navy in July 1942 and served on the U.S.S. Nassau and the U.S.S. Commencement Bay in World War II. He was released from active duty in March 1946 but served in the Active Reserve until he retired in 1966 at the rank of captain, U.S. Navy.

At Auburn, Rouse quickly made a name for himself. He was promoted to associate professor in 1950 and to full professor in 1956. During those early years of his career, he helped develop the AU Soil Testing Laboratory and served as its head from 1956 to 1966. Rouse was instrumental in developing the first computer program that made it possible to translate chemical-instant readings to printed fertilizer recommendations.

In 1966, Rouse left his teaching and research program to become associate director of the AAES, and in 1972, he was named AAES director and dean of what was then the AU School of Agriculture (later the School of Agriculture, Forestry and Biological Sciences) and is now the College of Agriculture. Rouse served in that position until his retirement in 1981.

During his years as dean and director, Rouse led both organizations through many changes and challenges. One of his greatest legacies was his successful effort to modernize AAES research facilities. He is credited with developing the AAES's E.V. Smith Research Center in Shorter and with organizing the AU Agricultural Alumni Association, among many other accomplishments.

He also was known nationwide for advancing agricultural science. He served on numerous national and regional boards and committees, ultimately helping to direct national farm policy.

Following retirement, Rouse remained active in the Auburn community, focusing his efforts on beautification. While serving as president of the Auburn Beautification Council, Rouse instigated and spearheaded a project to landscape the interchange at Interstate 85 and Highway 29 in Auburn. That landscaping venture received a national award from the Federal Highway Administration. He also established a wildflower trail near Auburn High School and donated native azaleas and rhododendrons to Auburn's Kiesel Park, among other beautification and community service projects.

In addition to the Auburn Beautification Council, Rouse was active in the Auburn-Opelika Camellia Club, the Chattahoochee Chapter of the U.S. Rhododendron Society, the Auburn Lion's Club and First Presbyterian Church of Auburn.

Rouse received many professional honors both during his tenure at Auburn and after his retirement. He was a Fellow in the American Society of Agronomy and Soil Science Society of America and was named Man of the Year in Service to Alabama Agriculture in 1978 by Progressive Farmer magazine. He was elected to the Alabama Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1985.

Rouse was further honored for his contributions to Auburn and agriculture in 1993 when the newly erected Life Sciences Building was named for him. The building houses AU entomologists, plant pathologists and botanists who work with a wide range of crops and agricultural issues.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 56 years, Madgelyn Mathis Rouse. Survivors include one son, David Rouse; one daughter, Sharon Rouse Breon; and six grandchildren.

Rouse was buried in his hometown of Andersonville, Ga., in Andersonville National Cemetery.

The family requests that anyone wishing to honor Rouse's memory make memorial donations to either the R. Dennis Rouse Scholarship Fund, AU Foundation, 107 Comer Hall, Auburn University, Ala., 36849, or First Presbyterian Church, 143 E. Thach Ave., Auburn, Ala., 36830.

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