Death of Rosalyn Carter: Jimmy Carter pays tribute to former first lady

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter at Hospice

Rosalyn Carter, wife of former President Jimmy Carter's wife, died Sunday at the age of 96.

The Carter Center announced the former first lady's death two days after entering a nursing facility at the couple's home in Plains, Georgia. Rosalynn leaves behind her husband, four children, 22 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and a legacy of mental health advocacy.

Jimmy Carter, 99, who is also in hospice care, paid tribute to his wife in a Carter Center statement, saying: “Rosalyn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished.

“He gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalyn was in the world, I always knew that someone loved and supported me.”

The couple's son, Chip Carter, said: “In addition to being a loving mother and an outstanding First Lady, my mother was also a great humanitarian in her own right. Her life of service and compassion was an example to all Americans.”


Rosalynn Carter dies at age 96

Former First Lady Rosalyn Carter has died at the age of 96

John BowdenNovember 19, 2023 10:21 p.m


A lifetime of public service

Both Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter agreed later in life that she was the more political of the two, PBS reported.

She had her own ideas, starting when she campaigned for a seat in the Georgia state senate. Ms Carter reportedly spoke to constituents in the row, including a mill worker who was caring for her mentally ill child.

“I want to know what you're going to do about mental health when you're governor,” she told her husband the next day. He vowed to put her in charge of it. Rosalynn Carter then dedicated her lifelong efforts to improving the mental health of Americans.

From 1977 to 1978, he served as Chairman Emeritus of the President's Commission on Mental Health. And after Mr. Carter's defeat in 1980, the couple founded the Carter Center, a foundation dedicated to “human rights and the relief of human suffering.”

John BowdenNovember 20, 2023 08:00


Who was Rosalyn Carter?

Eleanor Rosalynn Smith was born in Plains, Georgia on August 18, 1927. The nurse who delivered her was Lillian Carter, the mother of her future husband.

Rosalynn, the oldest child, was pushed to get extra help at home after her father died when she was just 13 years old. She helped take care of her siblings, sewed and took care of the housework.

Years later, he attended Georgia Southwestern College in Americus, where he met a man who would one day become president.

In 1946 the couple married. They moved while Jimmy Carter was in the navy, until he was forced to return to his hometown of Plains to take over his family's peanut farm. Rosalynn also began working on the farm full time.

Once Mr. Carter entered a life of public service, Rosalyn was his right hand. She helped run his many successful campaigns, as chairman sat in on Cabinet meetings and took an early interest in mental health advocacy.

The rest of their careers were marked by a lifetime of public service. The couple built homes with Habitat for Humanity and founded the Carter Center, which aimed to end the stigma surrounding mental health ailments.

John BowdenNovember 20, 2023 06:00


Eternal love

“She's the girl I want to marry,” Jimmy Carter reportedly told his mother after his first date with then-17-year-old Rosalyn Smith.

A year later, in 1946, they were married.

Mr. Carter ran successful campaigns for the Georgia state senate, governor of Georgia and eventually the presidency, all with his wife by his side.

After President Carter's defeat in 1980, the couple devoted their efforts to humanitarian causes, including starting the Carter Center and building Habitat for Humanity houses.

Together they raised four children and 22 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Earlier this year, after former President Carter entered hospice care, their grandson remarked that the couple was in the “last chapter” of their lives. “They're still here, they're still holding hands and still very much together,” she said.

Kelly RiesmanNovember 20, 2023 04:00


The last anniversary

Former President Carter celebrated their 77th wedding anniversary this summer.

“As we looked back at their legacy, it was truly wonderful to see the outpouring of support, respect and love,” grandson Jason Carter said recently. “That word love is really what definitely defines their personal relationship, but also the way they approach this world.”

The couple described their marriage as a “full partnership,” citing their experiences raising a family, running a peanut farm, their political careers before and in the White House, and their steadfast commitment to humanitarian causes.

John BowdenNovember 20, 2023 02:00


MLK's granddaughter remembers ‘dear friend'

One of the tributes posted on Twitter Sunday afternoon after Rosalyn Carter's death was emblematic of her family's legacy — it came from Bernice King, granddaughter of slain civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

“Her commitment to peace and her tireless efforts, along with her husband, former President #JimmyCarter, to make a positive impact on our nation and world will be remembered. Our hearts go out to President Carter and the Carter family during this difficult time,” Ms. King wrote in two posts.

John BowdenNovember 20, 2023 00:00


Rosalynn Carter: Advocate for Jimmy Carter and many others, always capitalizing on her love of politics

The Washington chatterbox, often unsure what to do with outsiders, dubbed Rosalyn Carter “Steel Magnolia” when she arrived as first lady.

A devout Baptist and mother of four, she was understated and outwardly shy, with a gentle smile and a softer southern accent. This was the “magnolia”. He was also a force behind Jimmy Carter's rise from peanut farmer to winner of the 1976 presidential election. That was “steel.”

However, this obvious, even trivial moniker almost certainly understated her role and impact in the Carters' early lives, their one term in the White House and four decades later as global humanitarians advocating peace, democracy and the eradication of diseases.

Through more than 77 years of marriage, until her death Sunday at age 96, Rosalynn Carter was the 39th president's business and political partner, best friend and close friend.

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John Bowden19 November 2023 23:00


Chris Christie is the first 2024 GOP candidate to speak out for Rosalynn Carter

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie compassionately praised the former first lady on Sunday, and was the only Republican 2024 candidate to do so when his statement went viral on Twitter.

“Our prayers go out to the Carter family on the passing of former First Lady Rosalyn Carter. She was a model for selfless public service and the Carter marriage was an example of a true love relationship. Mary Pat and I are praying for her, President Carter and their entire family.”

Donald Trump's wife Melania, also a former First Lady, had issued a statement, but her husband's Truth Social feed remained silent.

John BowdenNovember 19, 2023 10:37 p.m


More tributes are coming from the Democrats

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter and her husband Jimmy have long held a special place of honor for Americans and especially Democrats. The couple's dedication to causes like Habitat for Humanity endeared them to millions of Americans.

Members of the House Democratic caucus expressed their grief on Twitter after news of her death on Sunday.

John Bowden19 November 2023 22:00


Melania Trump comments on the death of the former first lady

Former first lady Melania Trump was among the Republicans who took part in a celebration of the life of Rosalyn Carter on Sunday.

“Rosalynn Carter leaves behind an important legacy not only as First Lady but also as a wife and mother. We will always remember her servant heart and devotion to her husband, family and country. May he rest in peace,” Ms Trump wrote.

Her husband had not released a similar statement more than thirty minutes later.

John BowdenNovember 19, 2023 9:38 p.m