19 Willie Rouse

Willie Rouse
Hometown (Last School)
Lexington, KY (University High)
1951-52, 1953-54
August 4, 1932

From the 1954 University of Kentucky Basketball Media Guide:

A home-town product, who graduated from University High, Rouse had been figured for extensive duty as a front line reserve this season until a knee injury sidelined him for the year . . . The six-foot junior will have one more season of eligibility remaining next year and can be counted on to provide valuable know-how to a lineup that will be minus the “Big Three” of this campaign-Hagan, Ramsey and Tsioropoulos . . . Rouse never made All-State, but Coach Rupp decided he was good enough for the nation’s number one quintet and the gamble justified the Baron’s faith . . . The Lexingtonian saw action in 20 of Kentucky’s 32 games in 1951-52 . . . A Commerce major, Rouse is a good student and made a 2.6 standing (B-plus) in Fall Semester this year.

Obituary – Former bank executive dies, Lexington Herald-Leader (March 24, 2007) by Jennifer Hewlett


‘Willie’ Rouse died Thursday in Naples, Fla., apparently of congestive heart failure. He was 74 years old. William L. “Willie” Rouse Jr., whose people skills, competitive nature and business savvy helped make him one of Lexington’s most influential leaders, died Thursday.

Mr. Rouse, former chairman and chief executive officer of First Security National Bank & Trust Co., died at Naples Community Hospital in Florida, apparently of congestive heart failure. He was 74.

Under his leadership, First Security grew to more than $1 billion in assets, and the bank’s holding company, which he also headed, acquired banks in Winchester, Danville and Richmond. Mr. Rouse retired in 1992 as chairman and chief executive officer of the bank holding company First Security Corp. of Kentucky.

“I would rather take a customer away from another bank than I would eat — and I like to eat,” he said in a 1987 interview.

“He was extremely competitive,” said Julian Beard, former executive vice president of First Security National Bank & Trust Co. Beard added that Mr. Rouse was also a “people person par excellence” and had a “seat-of-the-pants savvy” when it came to assessing business deals.

For years, Beard and Mr. Rouse held an annual three-event one-on-one “Olympic” competition. They faced off against each other in pool, racquetball and basketball, he said.

One year, Mr. Rouse brought a referee — striped shirt and all — to the basketball game, which was played in front of bank staffers. The referee claimed not to see Mr. Rouse push Beard out of bounds or commit other infractions.

“I didn’t think about having a referee. I thought we’d have an honor system,” Beard recalled with a laugh.

University of Kentucky basketball Coach Adolph Rupp should have known better than to allow Mr. Rouse to play in a game if he didn’t want Mr. Rouse to score, said former Lexington Mayor Jim Amato, a long-time friend.

Mr. Rouse, who didn’t get much playing time as a guard for Rupp in the 1950s, often talked about a UK team scrimmage game in Memorial Coliseum in which he scored in the double digits, imitating Rupp’s voice while telling the story.

During the game Rupp told him, “Son, there are 12,500 people here and not a one of them came here to see you shoot,” Mr. Rouse said in recounting the story to The Cats’ Pause magazine in 1986. Rupp told Mr. Rouse to hand the ball to Cliff Hagan, a UK All-American, or he’d be sitting next to the coach.

Mr. Rouse’s friends called him “Bull Moose” because “when he started out to do something, he would do it and you’d better not get in his way,” Amato said.

“There was no quicker wit,” Amato added. He recalled a Chamber of Commerce meeting in which Mr. Rouse, who was president of the organization, and Gov. John Y. Brown Jr. traded barbs. The governor, a friend of Mr. Rouse’s who spoke at the meeting, told Mr. Rouse that he never thought he would grow up to be Chamber of Commerce president.

“Whoever thought you’d grow up to be governor?” Mr. Rouse responded, according to Amato.

Mr. Rouse was born Aug. 4, 1932, in Lexington, the only child of William L. Rouse, who worked for the state agriculture department, and Margaret Allen Rouse, a homemaker. He grew up in a house on Irvine Road that he and his parents shared with his grandmother, an aunt and her son. Mr. Rouse spent many summers as a child and teenager working on an uncle’s farm in Stanford. Mr. Rouse was a 1950 graduate of the old University High School in Lexington. He received a degree in business administration from UK in 1954 and later was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force.

He devoted much of his time to various organizations in the years after he returned home from the military. He served on the boards of Ashland Inc. and Kentucky-American Water Co., the advisory board of Louisville Gas & Electric, and the Transylvania University board of curators. He also was Transylvania’s treasurer. He was treasurer and director of the Triangle Foundation, vice president of the Downtown Lexington Corp. and a director of the Central Kentucky Concert Association. He also was a member of the Kentucky State Racing Commission and chaired the Fayette County Board of Adjustments. He was one of the organizers of the Kentucky Athletic Club, which started The Bash, a long-time annual event marking the beginning of UK football season. It was also a fund-raiser for Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital.

“He was a huge contributor to this community of his time and efforts and abilities,” Amato said.

“He’s always tried to help others. He took a keen interest in all of his friends in the Lexington community. He was always trying to help someone who might have a problem,” said John R. Hall, former Ashland chairman and chief executive officer.

“He gave so much back to this community and he did it because he knew how good this community had been to him,” said Guy Huguelet, chairman of the board of Commerce Lexington.

Mr. Rouse is survived by his sweetheart since junior high school and wife of 52 years, Barbara Hardwick Rouse; two sons, William L. “Bill” Rouse III and Robert W. “Bob” Rouse; a daughter, Hunter R. Kessinger; seven grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday at Crestwood Christian Church in Lexington. Visitation will be from 2 to 5 p.m. and from 7 to 9 p.m. Monday at W.R. Milward Mortuary — Broadway.William L. Rouse Jr. 1932-2007