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Suanne Davis Roueche

Obituary for Suanne Davis Roueche

August 6, 1942 - December 24, 2017
Austin, Texas | Age 75


For 75 years, Suanne Davis Roueche lived a life that mirrored her most dearly held beliefs: scholarship, compassion, kindness, love, graciousness, and leadership. She was a devoted wife, a beloved mother, an insightful world-class educator, a passionate animal advocate, and a champion whose unsurpassed capacity for love and affection generously – and quite intentionally – embraced and enriched the lives of everyone she knew. A gifted teacher, author, public speaker, and philanthropist, Suanne was dedicated to many causes, on local, state, and national levels, serving two terms as president of the Assistance League of Austin and for more than 20 years as Director of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) at The University of Texas prior to retirement in 2012.

Remembered for her devotion to leadership development with and for the nation's community colleges, and an abiding love and respect for its students and faculty, Suanne shared her passion for teaching and learning, visiting more than 450 colleges, universities, and conferences as an invited speaker. Also an advocate for those who serve in community college leadership roles, Suanne fearlessly explored a variety of complex subjects, focusing relentlessly on those most likely to yield a positive impact, authoring and co-authoring 19 books and more than 60 articles and chapters. A former community college teacher and faculty member, and a Senior Lecturer with The University of Texas, Suanne championed the community college, offering perceptive, realistic, and widely-shared best practices designed to advance teaching and learning.

Suanne's lifetime of insightful literary contributions and scholarly efforts were recognized by her peers, resulting in several prestigious honors awarded steadily over the past three decades. For her publications, Suanne received the Distinguished Research Award, presented by the AACC Council of Universities and Colleges for Between a Rock and a Hard Place: The At-Risk Student in the Open Door College in 1994, after having received the Outstanding Research Publication Award, by the same entity for College Responses to Low-Achieving Students: A National Study, only nine years earlier. In 1997, the American Association of Community Colleges named her the recipient of the Annual Leadership Award, the highest recognition that can be bestowed on an individual leader in the community college field. Three years later, led by the desire to memorialize the significance of her life's work, those who knew Suanne – alumni, friends, colleagues and community college practitioners across the country – established The Suanne Davis Roueche/NISOD Endowment at The University of Texas at Austin. To date, the total contributions to this endowment exceed $1.2M. Even though she had retired in 2001, her influence in the field of community college leadership was once again affirmed when, in 2012, the League for Innovation named their excellence award, "The John and Suanne Roueche Excellence Award." Again, in 2015, author Anne-Marie McCartan recognized Suanne as one of the five most influential women in the development of community colleges in the last 25 years.

Suanne's diligent scholarship, designed to strengthen the nation's community colleges for the benefits of those it serves, were also commended by leaders in several states and higher educational systems across the country. For example, as early as 1979, Suanne was named Kentucky Colonel, presented by Governor Julian B. Carroll and the legislature for service to the Kentucky System of Higher Education. In 1983, she was recognized by The State of Texas, receiving The Yellow Rose of Texas award, presented by Governor Mark White, an honorary designation for native Texan women who have provided meritorious service to the State. She also received The Chancellor's Honor Award, presented by the State of Alabama Postsecondary Education for outstanding contributions to the Alabama College System, The Great Seal of Florida, presented by Governor Robert Martinez, the Legislature, and the St. Petersburg Junior College for service to the State.

Suanne was an alumnae of the University of North Texas where she had received her undergraduate and graduate degrees. She began her career at El Centro College in Dallas, teaching writing as she developed and implemented a nationally-recognized developmental writing program. She earned her doctorate in Community College Leadership from The University of Texas where her interest in research and writing began. But as much as she loved it, nurtured it, and was recognized for it, there was more – so much more – to this vibrant powerhouse of a woman than her profession.

The common factor of all that she did was well known to all who knew her – as obvious as a strand of colored thread purposefully designing its way through decades of unfurling fabric: Suanne's legacy is one of incredible depth of heart, of wit and charm and grit and grace, of indefatigable focus around the things in life that really matter: home, family, community and humor, and as naturally defined by her in the giving of herself for the benefit of others.

Her commitment to others is evident in dozens of examples, demonstrating her desire to give back to the community in which she lived. Suanne served as an alumnae volunteer for Delta Gamma Fraternity, spearheading the fundraising efforts to build and furnish the Gamma Nu chapter's house at The University of North Texas. Over the years, she led the Homecoming Committee, planned and coordinated festivities to celebrate the chapter's recent return to campus, the ground breaking ceremonies, and the formal gathering of alumnae and active members. In 1989, she received The Cable Award, the highest recognition a Delta Gamma alumnae can receive for her service to the fraternity. A philanthropist at heart, her endeavors included the initiation of dozens of established endowed scholarship funds she and her husband, John, have gifted at colleges and universities throughout the State and around the country, including The University of Texas and Austin Community College. Suanne was dedicated to the good works of many Austin non-profits and served for decades with the Assistance League of Austin, serving as president twice, leading the grants program, and serving as the lead grant writer. She served with pride as a board member of The Center for the Survival of Torture and, most recently, as Chair.

Even dearer to her heart were her friends of the animal variety. Suanne never knew a stray she did not rush to embrace, nor would she allow a wounded critter within a mile's radius of her to suffer without her medical intervention. A pet parent to Annie and Olive, beloved dogs she and her husband shared, Suanne's affection for the animal kingdom extended far beyond those that were a part of the household, expanding to embrace all manner of wildlife: battered birds and ducks, wounded hawks, orphaned opossums and squirrels, feisty feral cats, wayward snapping turtles, and the occasional aged alley cat. So much did she enjoy providing refuge for wildlife, Suanne earned state-mandated licensure and certification permits necessary to rescue and rehabilitate injured and orphaned wildlife until they are healthy enough for release at approved release sites. She was affiliated with the National Opossum Society, the National Wildlife Rehabilitator's Association, Kendalia Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation and the Austin Area Rescue and Rehabilitation Group.

After a long and courageous struggle with lung cancer, Suanne Davis Roueche passed away on December 24, 2017. A fifth generation Texan, she was born August 6th, 1942, to Raymond and Susie Leatherwood Davis in Dallas, Texas and joyfully remembered childhood summers with her beloved grandmother, Mom Tom, who was a powerful mentor and role model for her, instilling in her the values so apparent within the reflection of her life's work.

The family would like to acknowledge and express their gratitude for the wonderful physicians, medical staff and home care professionals who treated Suanne over the years and who contributed so much to her care and comfort: Dr. Bali Netaji and Karen Thomas and the wonderful staff at Texas Oncology North; Dr. Tom Blevins and the staff at Texas Endocrinology and Diabetes and home health care provider, Nina Amuan.

Suanne is survived by her husband of 41 years, John Roueche, her daughter, Robin Maca and son-in-law, Steve Reitz of Austin, step daughter Michelle Roueche and husband, David Thomas of Belton, stepson Jay Roueche and wife, Elise with grandchildren, Jack and Caroline of Dallas, a brother, Allen Davis and wife, Susie of Itasca, a niece, Lydia Abney and husband, John and sons Tommy and Drew of Itasca, Texas.

A memorial service for Suanne will be held on February 3, 2018, at 10:30 a.m. in the Renaissance Hotel in the Arboretum. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages donations in Suanne's honor to any of the non-profit organizations that were so dear to her. These include the Roueche Scholarship Fund with the Austin Community College Foundation, the Assistance League of Austin, or Ironwood Pig Sanctuary and Sara Sanctuary in Seguin.

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Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
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