TALLAHASSEE — Although State Representative Darryl Rouson did not get everything in the budget he asked for in the Special House Session that took place last month such as the expansion of health insurance coverage to thousands of Floridians, he was proud to vote on the budget for personal reasons.
Rep. Rouson secured $300,000 for a day of service project named in memory of his father, Dr. W. Ervin Rouson, at St. Petersburg College.
“I am not the man that my father was. He was of impeccable character and reputation. He was a community man who believed in community engagement,” he said on the House floor.
Dr. W. Ervin Rouson
His father and mother, the late Vivian Rouson, met at Xavier University in New Orleans. After marrying and a short stint at MacDill Air Force Base, the family settled in St. Petersburg.
Dr. Rouson became the chief of guidance counselors at the segregated Gibbs Junior College, where he was recently inducted into their Hall of Fame. After integration he transferred to the Clearwater campus of St. Petersburg Junior College (SPJC) and became the director of Student Campus Life.
While at SPJC he began his doctoral studies. His dissertation was entitled “A Study of the Information St. Petersburg Junior College Second Year Black Students Possess About Their Expressed Vocational Preferences 1971-72,” which was published in 1972 at Florida State University where he received his Ph.D.
Outside of academia, Dr. Rouson was a scoutmaster, coached basketball at Immaculate Conception Catholic School and served on various boards and councils. He was also the secretary for the NAACP in St. Petersburg, and was the founding member of the graduate chapter of Eto Rho of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.
At the time of his death he was vice president of student affairs at Palm Beach Junior College where he died on the campus after suffering a massive heart attack in May of 1979.
“My daddy believed in community service and I inherited that from him. And as a part of this budget we’re naming the Dr. W. Ervin Rouson Day on Service at St. Pete College, and I thank you for that,” he proudly said.
According to Rep. Rouson, the project dedicated in his father’s honor did not influence him to vote for the budget.
“When the Tampa Bay Times asked me if that had any influence on my vote,
I said: ‘Well, Shirley Chisholm said unbought and unbossed.’ You can’t buy my vote, but you certainly make me proud of the vote that I was going to give.”