By Vicky Moon and Leonard Shapiro | Fauquier Times
Randolph D. “Randy” Rouse, a business impresario and a dashing, dapper and daring sportsman died on Friday, April 7. He was 100 years old.
Widely known throughout Northern Virginia, and particularly in the horse country of Fauquier and Loudoun counties, Rouse recently also showed his philanthropic side when he donated the Middleburg Training Track, which he’d owned since 2006, to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.
He signed the papers on Dec. 29, the day before he turned 100, and told the Fauquier Times “at my age, you have to start thinking about the future.”
Rouse was born in Smithfield on Dec. 30, 1916 and grew up in Newport News. He graduated from Washington and Lee in 1939 and shortly thereafter was serving in the United States Navy during World War II. After the war, he moved to Arlington and began his foray into real estate building homes in 1947. His firm, Randolph D. Rouse Enterprises, developed the Seven Corners Shopping Center and others in the Northern Virginia area.
Rouse maintained a 10-acre estate as his home in Arlington. He would often pick up his beloved saxophone and entertain awe-struck guests who gathered all around to hear him play. The walls of his home are lined with photos of his many champion point-to-point and steeplechase horses, including – Cinzano (caught up in a controversial horse swap) and Ricacho winner of the 1960 Virginia Gold Cup with the late legendary Joe Aitchenson Jr., up. There are also many images in his home of memorable moments in the hunt field.
Rouse joined the Fairfax Hunt in the late 1940s and became Joint Master of Foxhounds (Jt. MFH) in MFH in the mid-50s, a title and position he maintained for 55 years until his death. “He WAS the Fairfax Hunt,” his friend, Joseph Keusch of Middleburg, said. Keusch also served as a Jt. MFH. “He was a true Southern gentleman.”
“His real love was the world of fox-hunting,” said another long-time friend, Will Allison of Warrenton, the president of the Virginia Gold Cup Races. “He was a legend, and to be invited to hunt with Randy Rouse was the ultimate invitation. To be invited to come up front and hunt with him, it was like sitting at the right hand of God.”
After first joining Fairfax Hunt, Rouse built a clubhouse for the group while it was located in Reston at Sunset Hills Farm and owned by the Bowman family. He also built a steeplechase course in Reston and later at Belmont along Route 7 in Fairfax. Due to creeping civilization and development, the hunt, along with many others, eventually migrated west. It is now known as the Loudoun-Fairfax Hunt.
He also was also the oldest steeplechase trainer to saddle a winner at age 99 with Hishi Soar at the Foxfield races in Charlottesville last spring. That horse was a also a winner at the Orange County Point-to- Point races recently.
As a rider and competitor, Rouse will be forever noted as one of the winningest amateur steeplechase and point-to-point jockeys of this era. He supported steeplechasing through his sponsorship of the Virginia Professional Horseman Benefit races, the Gold Cup races at Great Meadow and Colonial Downs. He recently was honored with the F. Ambrose Clarke award from the National Steeplechase Association as one who has “improved, encouraged and promoted the sport’s growth and welfare.”
Rouse’s first wife was the late actress Audrey Meadows, a co-star with the late comedian Jackie Gleason in “The Honeymooners,” the wildly popular 1950s television series. They divorced in 1958 after two years.
Between wives, Rouse was a frequent escort to many A-list Washington area women. With his own charming demeanor, good looks, and elegant manners, he was usually considered the arm candy. He swirled in high circles on the dance floor at the Washington International Horse Show, hunt balls and embassy receptions, yet was equally comfortable and welcome in the stables and at race tracks everywhere.
“He was a great sportsman, a great lover and one of the great story-tellers of all time,” Allison said. “He kept you enthralled for hours with his exploits.”
Everyone was his friend, including the flamboyant and bombastic late Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke. Rouse was a regular in Cooke’s private box at RFK Stadium and later, FedEx Field, and more than occasionally had a seat on the team plane to away games.
His widow, Michele Rouse, who he married in 1983, told the Washington Post in 1998: “He’s just amazing. He attacks every day with enormous passion.”
Indeed, the day before he died, he tried to reach a friend in Middleburg from his hospital bed to say he was sorry he couldn’t make it for lunch that day.
Arrangements for services are pending.