Milford Owen Rouse, gastroenterologist and president of the American Medical Association, son of William Thomas and Sally (Milford) Rouse, was born on August 10, 1902, in Jacksonville, Texas. The elder Rouse was a Southern Baptist minister, and he and his wife believed that religion and medicine were "partners in a total healing ministry." As a child Milford and his four siblings traveled to Brazil with his parents. While there he contracted meningitis and was near death. The experience of being healed by Brazilian doctors inspired his own medical career. After a year in Brazil the Rouses moved to Cuba for a year before returning to the United States. Rouse graduated from high school in Vernon, Texas, and entered Baylor University in Dallas. He received his B.A. in 1922 and his M.A. in 1923. In 1927 he received his M.D. from Baylor Medical School in Dallas. On July 26, 1927, shortly before beginning his internship, he married Leaureame McDavid, whom he had met when they were both students at Baylor. They had one daughter. As a first lieutenant in the United States Army Medical Corps in 1927–28 Rouse served his internship at the hospital attached to Fort Sam Houston in Dallas. In 1928, after completing his internship, he went into private practice with a team of physicians. In addition to his practice he taught internal medicine at Baylor University College of Medicine in Dallas until it moved to Houston in 1943. He then became clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School. He helped to found the Dallas Health and Science Museum at Fair Park in 1946, and later served as vice president (see SCIENCE PLACE).
Rouse was a member of the Texas Medical Association and the Southern Medical Association. In 1967–68 he was president of the American Medical Association and spoke out strongly against Medicare. He believed the government should give tax-funded medical care only to indigents. Rouse belonged to the Texas Academy of Internal Medicine, the Texas Geriatric Society, the Dallas Academy of Internal Medicine, the American Gastroenterological Association, and the American Therapeutic Society. He served as the president of the Southern Medical Association in 1958–59. He was founding director of the Dallas Council on Aging and a member of the Dallas Community Planning Council, the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, and the Dallas Citizens Traffic Commission. He also acted as director of the Dallas YMCA. He received the Health Award of the Dallas Hospital Council (1947), the Distinguished Service Award of the Texas Medical Association (1964), and the Dallas Man of the Year Award (1967). He was a member of Lakeside Baptist Church and served as a deacon, teacher, and librarian. He called himself an "independent conservative," or "a Democrat whose party had left him." He also was a Mason, a Shriner, and a member of the Optimist Club. He died in Dallas on March 14, 1978, and was buried at Grove Hill Memorial Park.