Lt. Governor Francis Praises late Senator Ruby M. Rouss as Housing Complex renamed in her Honor
Acting Governor Gregory R. Francis paid tribute to the life and legacy of the late Senator Ruby M. Rouss at the renaming ceremony of the Watergut Housing Complex on St. Croix on Tuesday, June 17, 2008.
Calling her a “native stalwart of the Virgin Islands,” Lt. Governor Francis said her pride, strength and vision made the way for a better St. Croix and a better Virgin Islands.
Senator Ruby M. Rouss was born in Christiansted, but completed high school in New York. After graduation, she enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps and worked her way to the rank of Master Sergeant.
Lt. Governor Francis, a veteran, said the life of Senator Rouss was one of “many firsts.” She was the first Virgin Islands female to join the U.S. Armed Forces and the first African American to serve as secretary to General Dwight D. Eisenhower at the office of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe Office. Even more noteworthy, she was the first black woman to head a Legislature in the United States.
“Today’s recognition is many years overdue,” Lt. Governor Francis said. “She should always be remembered for tenacity, her commitment to public service, her championship of the youth and her dedication to always stand up to represent the little man. She was a true fighter.”
Lt. Governor Francis also shared a personal story, having lived in the housing complex with his wife, Cheryl.
“We made our first home together her and we were proud to be part of a small, close knit community,” he reminisced.
He said the renaming of Watergut Housing Complex to the Ruby M. Rouss Housing Complex will bestow a sense of dignity and honor to the community, calling on residents to make the housing community a representation of Senator Rouss and all that she believed in.
“Let this place be a source of pride and joy for all who live here,” Lt. Governor Francis said. “This will be a most befitting tribute to a fine woman who did all she could to advance the Virgin Islands. She is a model for all to admire.”
The renaming ceremony was sponsored by the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority and is a result of legislation enacted by the 22nd Legislature of the Virgin Islands and sponsored by former Senator Carol M. Burke.
Lt. Governor Gregory R. Francis (third from left) unveils plaque honoring the legendary Senator Ruby M. Rouss and renaming Watergut Homes after her. Also pictured (From left to right): Former Senator John Bell; Assistant to the Governor Malcolm M. McGregor; former Senator Carol M. Burke; Senate President Usie Richards; Rhalina LaPlace, granddaughter of Ruby Rouss; CEO Adrienne Williams and Executive Director Clifford Graham of the VI Housing Finance Authority.
The plaque recognizing Senator Ruby M. Rouss.
Lt. Governor Francis pays tribute to the late Senator Ruby Rouss.