Biographical / Historical
John Rous, born in 1912, was a photographer with a keen eye and an even sharper sense of timing. Rous was born in Meridian, Mississippi and grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He graduated from Missionary Ridge High School in Tennessee before attending Pleasant Hill Academy in Pleasant Hill, Tennessee. Mr. Rous studied photography under Arthur Brooks of Chattanooga who was, at the time, the primary photographer for the two Chattanooga newspapers. In 1933 Mr. Rous obtained a job at the Washington Herald. During WWII he worked in the Office of War Information as the chief of photographers. After the war, he began working with the Associated Press as one of the White House Photographers.
John Rous held many elected positions in the White House News Photographers Association (WHNPA) culminating in his election to the Presidency of the WHNPA. He was one of the organizers of its Photo Contest in which he won 34 awards throughout his life. His photographs won other awards such as the feature category at The Hague, Netherlands in the World Photo Congress. Mr. Rous also notes, in his own career summary, his 1965 "Man of the Year" Award from the Cigar Institute of America. (He was one of the several honored at this event.)
Rous enjoyed fishing, hunting, and playing golf in his spare time. He also claimed the Presbyterian faith and was a Mason. Due to his Southern heritage, his White House colleagues referred to him as the "Colonel".
The photographs of John Rous are mostly political and span six presidents and three decades. To give an example of his timing, Mr. Rous took a photograph of President Eisenhower shaking Winston Churchill’s hand from the inside of Churchill’s limousine. Probably his most famous photograph is the photograph of Jacqueline Kennedy and Robert Kennedy following the casket of President John F. Kennedy from the airplane on the day of his assassination. Other photographs of the Rous Collection include the last official photograph of President Franklin Roosevelt which appeared on over 300 news covers after Roosevelt’s death.
There are also several pictures of celebrities. Some of these were obviously taken by other people since Mr. Rous appears in them, but were part of his personal collection. Included are pictures of actresses Marsha Hunt, Maureen O’Hara and Lucille Ball, and a group photo of movie stars including Roy Rogers, James Cagney and Edgar Bergen.
John Rous was married to Constance Evelyn Hicks Rous for 54 years. They had no children. In 1993 he moved to Lynchburg, Virginia. In 1995, at the age of 82, John Rous died. In his will Mr. Rous left his photograph collection to the UTC Library where his legacy of brilliant photography remains.