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Bishop Willie S. Rouse, Sr.November 21, 1931 ~ February 28, 2020 (age 88)
Bishop Willie Simon Rouse
Willie Simon Rouse was born on Saturday, November 21, 1931, in Dover, North Carolina—the only child of the late Mother Esther Mae Johnson. He is a graduate of Adkin High School, Kinston, North Carolina. He attended Seton Hall University and the Manhattan Bible Institute. He received several certificates for proficiency in supervision from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. He received training and worked as a skilled television technician and a color formulator. Bishop Rouse honorably served in the United States Army and the Reserves for over a decade.
Bishop married the love of his life and childhood sweetheart, the late Evangelist Barbara Ilar Johnston, on June 12, 1954. He affectionately called her “The cream in my coffee.” They were blessed with 64 years of wedded bliss—until she transitioned from labor to reward on July 4, 2018. “The sugar lump has reunited with the cream in his coffee.” They were generous in sharing the key to their successful marriage—keeping Christ as the focus and the center. God added to this strong, loving union three children—Willie Jr, Phyllis Mae and Deirdre Lucille. Bishop Rouse is proud to be called a father, grandfather and great-grand father. Spending time with his family has always been a priority for him.
As a young man, he attended St John Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, in Dover, NC. He attended St Luke Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, in Orange, NJ. Bishop was mentored by the late Dr. Oscar Lucas—a pioneer and father in the Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ. He served the man of God as a chauffeur, too. Bishop was a founding member of the Emmanuel Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, Newark, NJ, where the late Bishop Harold N. Foy, was the pastor. He shared how God convicted him of being a hypocrite through one of his pastor’s sermons. He said it felt as if he were being followed all through the week. He decided to make a change and to become the disciple for whom the Lord was calling. Bishop served as a Sunday School Superintendent, Deacon, Choir member and Trustee. He answered the call to preach the gospel and was ordained on September, 15, 1968. Bishop became the pastor of the Fountain Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, in Brooklyn where he served until he became the founding pastor of The Rose of Sharon Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ. The church was established in Brooklyn, New York, in 1975, and is now located in Easton, Pennsylvania. Bishop Willie Simon Rouse has dedicated his life to serving God and others.
He served as the Vice Bishop of the Northeastern Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ. He has was the treasurer of the Northeastern District Churches of Christ, Disciples of Christ and the editor of the Disciples Herald. Bishop Rouse has been blessed to travel both nationally and internationally. He traveled to Monrovia, Liberia to assist in expanding the Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ. He has been instrumental in developing and mentoring pastors, teachers and evangelists throughout his five decades of ministry. He had a steadfast desire to help young people recognize and develop their gifts and place in serving the Lord. He walked in integrity, insight and power.
Bishop was a good neighbor and participated in his block associations. He was trained as a paramedic and was the first president of the South Ward Ambulance Squad in Newark, NJ. Bishop had a keen sense of humor and spurted out little one liners. For example, if you asked him something glaringly obvious he’d say, “Two guesses and the first one doesn’t count” or if you stepped on his toe, he might quip, “You walk on top, I’ll walk on bottom.” He was the uncrowned king of checkers as he jokingly asked his opponent—“You sure you want to move there?” before laughing himself to near tears, as he removed their last piece from the board. Bishop was a great fisherman—he always returned home with a cooler filled with fish—even if some were contributed by his fellow fishermen. He loved to call or leave messages early—very early, in the morning because, “The Lord put you in my spirit.” He also, could look into your eyes, or hold your hand and read your mail.
Bishop loved to drive and he drove cars, vans, and buses. He took great joy in transporting God’s people to and fro. Oft times, he would drive the congregation to fellowship with other ministries, preach the word and spryly hop back into the driver’s seat while the congregants were soundly sleeping! In addition to being an excellent driver, he was an excellent driving instructor. He had nerves of steel when it came to teaching others to drive. He was generous in complimenting his students by saying, “You’re a good driver, or did you have a good teacher?”
He loved to read, pray and mediate. He would spend hours in communion with “The Master.” He punctuated the importance of prayer, by establishing a mantra for the church. He’d say, “What are we going to do?” and the church emphatically answered, “Pray!”
As an octogenarian, Bishop Willie Simon Rouse continued to serve the Lord and the community through sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Bishop concluded many services by joyfully singing --”If You Live Right, Heaven Belongs to You”, “Just to Behold His Face” or stating “If I don’t see you again down here, see you in the Rapture.”
Bishop passed peacefully at his home on Friday February 28, 2020 in Nazareth, PA
Bishop was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara Ilar; sons Willie Jr, Edward Miller, son-in-law, Lawrence Bernard; great-granddaughter Anastasia Brielle. He leaves to cherish his love and wisdom daughters: Phyllis of PA, Deirdre (Jimmy) of PA; grandchildren: Saleek of NJ, Sahib of NJ, Kasib of NJ, Keli (Kevin) of NJ, Lori of NJ, Kymberley (Reginald) of VA, Veronica Ilar (Oliver) of PA, Alicia Christine of IL, Jimmy of AR, Natasha of AR, Joi of PA, Daniel of PA; great-grandchildren: Makayla of PA, Christopher of NJ, Alyssa of NJ; sisters in laws: Gwendolyn (Eugene) of GA, Peggy of NC, Alice of NC, Pearl (Earless) of NC, Sandra (Alexander) of NC; uncle: Wilbert Rouse of NJ; aunt: Hollie Mae Rouse of NJ; god-children: David of NJ, Ericka of NY, sons and daughters birthed from his heart, and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.
Viewings will take place in Rose of Sharon 120 S. 12th St. Easton PA on Friday from 6-9PM and Saturday from 10-11AM. Homegoing services will take place Saturday at 11AM in the church.
Interment will take place in Graceland Cemetery on Monday at 11AM.
Full obituary will be posted shortly.
Please keep the Rouse family uplifted in prayer during this time of transition.