< Gouverneur Benefactors — John W. Rouse
Cives Northern Division, Gouverneur, NY
John W. Rouse, one of eight children, left his home in Truxton, near Tully, in 1916, at age 15, to make a life as a carpenter and builder and to Improve his lot in life. After working for a while for Joseph Lonergan Constructors in Tully and Syracuse, he and a friend formed their own company which John Rouse continued to operate after his friend had dropped out. With headquarters in Gouverneur, the village which John Rouse had adopted as home in 1938, the company was incorporated in 1947 as the John W. Rouse Construction Corp.
Mr. Rouse's construction company grew into a multi-million dollar empire which included Cives Corporation, comprised of four steel fabricating divisions. It also included, Northeast Constructors, Gouverneur, an industrial contractor;
Kerr Electrical, Auburn, Maine, an electrical contractor; Rite Equipment, Gouverneur, a supplier of contractor equipment and materials and Eight Church Street Realty, Gouverneur, a real estate division.
But, in addition to building a large business enterprise In his adopted village, Mr. Rouse also contributed to the social and civic betterment of the community. The John W. Rouse Foundation, Inc., was formed in 1955 with its main purposes "the encouragement and fostering of and providing financial assistance to deserving individuals, associations, community chests, organizations, societies or other agencies operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary or educational purposes." One purpose of the foundation was to provide $4,000 annually, in four annual $1,000. payments. to a Gouverneur High School graduate interested In pursuing a college engineering degree.
Mr. Rouse, who had become enthused after participation in a Dale Carnegie course, sponsored another course for 20 of his employes and personally paid the tuition. In 1968, Mr. Rouse offered to donate land at the corner of Rock Island and East Main streets, for a Children's museum and small park. The property was the former Amasa Corbin property, purchased in 1881 from William Wright.
John Rouse once ranked one of the best semi-pro baseball pitchers in the state. He remained active in various civic affairs. He served on the Gouverneur Board of Education, was a Director of the First National Bank of Gouverneur, was as member of the National Advisory Board of the Small Business Administration, chairman of the Architects Relations Committee of New York Stale Building Industry Employers.
He was also one of the organizers and charter members of the General Contractors Association of New York State, a member of TAPPI and the Gouverneur Lions Club.
A book published in 2000, entitled, The History of Cives Corporation, is fittingly dedicated to "the kindness, the inspiration, the vision and the wisdom of the founder of the Cives Corporation, John W. Rouse... may he look down on us with pride.”
In his introduction Howard Lechler calls the company founder "a truly amazing man, loved by his employees and colleagues as well as by his family and friends, John Rouse inspired generations of Cives employees to build and grow the company into what is today the Americas largest steel fabrication company and one of the largest snow and ice control manufacturing companies.”
"All of this was built on the lasting inspiration, philosophy and dedication of John Rouse, who rose from modest background to run a multimillion dollar corporation.” He later became a benefactor of local college hopefuls through his Rouse foundation and later the Gouverneur Foundation. The founder of Cives Corporation is remembered by his employees as one who put others in challenging positions and stood behind them when they needed help. The father of four children and a multinational company, he continually surrounded himself with young people in whose hands he placed the future of his companies."
"John was a basic and straight forward man whose watchwords were as simple as "profits start with a broom" and "share the wealth."Mr. Rouse died Nov. 4, 1974, and at his request was quietly laid to rest in the hills near Tully.
Some of the text of this article came from the special insert of the Watertown Times, Wed., July 2, 1980, "The One and Only, Gouverneur."