Jim Rouse, age 85, of Oak Ridge set aside his guitar and was welcomed to Heaven as he left his earthly home on the morning of August 18, 2022. Born on September 15, 1936 in LaFollette, Tennessee in rather humble beginnings he was the son of a diligent, supportive grocer, Lawrence, and a caring, dutiful mother, Mable. With this modest but firm foundation at his feet he rose to a life of extraordinary accomplishment. After graduation from Campbell County High, he entered the University of Tennessee where he was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. Before graduating college and entering UT medical school, Jim eloped with his first and only love, the former Marilyn Kay Wheeler, who remained his inseparable constant for the next 64 years and was the centerpiece of the classic love story everyone aspires to achieve. After graduating from medical school he returned to Knoxville and began his medical practice as a general practitioner, was later drafted into the Air Force during the Vietnam War where he achieved the rank of Major while serving as a flight-surgeon, later established an extensive private practice in Kentucky before finally returning back to East Tennessee as a radiologist where he established and headed the Methodist Medical Center radiology department, served as the hospital’s Chief of Staff and founded the Oak Ridge Breast Center before his retirement. Jim was a voracious reader absorbing nearly every genre available while amassing a significant library. He was always interested in what you were reading. For decades he served loyally on the board of directors for Peoples Bank of the South. Over time he became an accomplished, self-taught pianist and guitar player. His musical talents eventually included writing songs for various artists at Warner Brothers Records which earned him Gold and Platinum albums and numerous acknowledgements on multiple Grammy nominated recordings from comedy to bluegrass music. Predictably, over time he became well known in musical circles and enjoyed interacting with the musical stars of the day. However, his greatest reward from music was his friendship with folk music icon and bluegrass legend, Doc Watson which lasted until his passing in 2012. Together in 1988 they helped create and sustain the largest acoustic music festival in the world, MerleFest. As water is a powerful force shaping whatever it touches so was Jim Rouse in his interactions with others. He was often encouraging or mentoring countless physicians, musicians, entrepreneurs, and creatives of all types. Fondly remembering the story of how the turtle got to the top of the fencepost only by the help of others and not by itself, Jim would use charisma and words as he delivered “Big Talks” to those he felt were equipped to become something bigger than they ever thought they could be. As often was the case those discussions left lasting, positive impacts. Jim was preceded in death by his mother Mable and father Lawrence.
Jim is survived by a family he loved without limits and who, in turn, adore him deeply: his wife and lifelong sweetheart Marilyn; daughter Ellen (John); sons Scott (Ambre) and Mitchell (Andrea); grandchildren Jay, Sam, Tennessee, and Strummer (who worshipped their “Big Big”); and sister Barsha Lynn Ammons.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Kingswood Home for Children, 160 Wachtel Rd., Bean Station, TN 37708.
A private interment will be held at Jacksboro Cemetery.
Condolences may be given online at http://www.cross-smithfuneralhome.com
Arrangements by Cross-Smith Funeral Home