Rouse's legacy Howard County: Estate of visionary developer aids the causes he supported in life.

October 16, 1997

IN DEATH AS IN LIFE, James W. Rouse is making a difference. The visionary developer of Columbia, Baltimore's Harborplace and showcase commercial developments around the world died in April 1996, but he left money in his will to boost the kinds of social causes he supported when he lived.

Mr. Rouse's associates insist that first and foremost, he was a businessman. But his passion for social change rivaled his entrepreneurial spirit. His work to improve life in impoverished communities began even before he conceived of Columbia, the Inner Harbor or one of the nation's first enclosed shopping centers in Anne Arundel County's Harundale.

Recent disclosures show that he also was generous in death. He willed $6.3 million to charities he created to provide affordable housing, education, job training and health care for those who need it most.

The Enterprise Foundation, which he founded, already has doled out $2.1 billion to provide a holistic approach to healing troubled communities. Mr. Rouse's will enables the foundation to operate day-care centers in seven U.S. cities, including Baltimore. The money should boost the foundation's efforts to rebuild Sandtown-Winchester in West Baltimore.

His bequests also will enable the Jim and Patty Rouse Charitable Foundation Inc., his family's charity, to continue its works for the public good. The posthumous gifts reveal some other interests. He gave to the Howard County Arts Council, for his namesake Jim Rouse Theatre for the Performing Arts; the University of Maryland Foundation, and Jubilee Housing. Court records placed the value of Mr. Rouse's estate and trust fund at $21 million, although the figure does not include property that he owned jointly with his wife.

It may come as some surprise that Mr. Rouse's estate was not worth more. With so many valuable projects in his life's portfolio, many could have figured that he was a billionaire. But one of his associates, the Enterprise Foundation's Bart Harvey, said he donated a considerable portion of wealth during his lifetime to causes he believed in: the environment, civil rights, peace efforts, to name a few.

It is no surprise that Mr. Rouse, in death, is giving to causes he loved. He gave so much to them when he lived.

Pub Date: 10/16/97

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