An attempt by a group of investors to take over the Rouse Co. of Columbia was disclosed yesterday after the New York financier behind the takeover bid died unexpectedly.

More than a million shares of Rouse's 13 million shares were purchased by the group, which notified the Securities and Exchange Commission and the company of its purchases Tuesday Morning.

But 10 minutes after the notice of the takeover bid was delivered, Rouse President Mathias DeVito received a phone call telling him the leader of the group had died.

The investor, S. H. Scheuer, died Monday night in New York, Dow Jones News Service reported.

Scheuer's associates in the Rouse pruchases were identified in SEC reports as Leon Myers of New York and Donald E. Peiser of Houston. Meyers is an employe of Scheuer, and Peiser is chairman of Southdown Inc. of Houston, a company that he took over with Scheuer's help in 1975.

Peiser declined to comment on whether Scheuer's death would have any effect on the three men's plans for Rouse. DeVito said Rouse officials knew that someone had been buying the company's stock, but did not know who it was until the SEC filing by the three investors was delivered yesterday.

"No one has talked to them; we don't know what their intentions are," said DeVito.

According to the SEC report, Scheuer, Meyers and Peiser bought 7.5 percent of Rouse stock on the open market between Aug. 1 and Oct. 19. The purchases apparently helped push the price of the stock from $13.88 per share in August to a high of $18.38. The stock has traded recently on the over-the-counter market for about $17.50 a share.

In their SEC refiling, the three investors said they believe Rouse "should be restructed to enable shareholders to receive greater value" from the investment.

A merger with another company, sale or transer of some of Rouse's assets or an increase in the company's dividends are among the potential changes, the group said.

A major shopping center developer, Rouse has won wide acclaim for its Faneuil Hall project in Boston and recently was chosen to develop a similiar project at New York City's South Street Seaport.

About 30 percent of Rouse's stock is owned by the company's founder, James Rouse, and other officers, directors and employes of the company.