Rosalynn Carter, the wife of former President Jimmy Carter and a proponent for mental health issues, died on November 19, 2023, at the age of 96. Her spouse of 77 years, four daughters, 12 grandsons, and 14 great-grandchildren survive her. You can learn about his causes of death by scrolling down the page.
Rosalynn Carter Cause of Death
Former first lady Rosalynn Carter has died at the Carters’ home in Plains, Georgia.
In a statement, Jimmy Carter said his wife was his equal partner in everything he ever accomplished. https://t.co/WBQr9cvCUb
— amna (@IAmAmnaNawaz) November 20, 2023
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A Life of Service and Partnership
Eleanor Rosalynn Smith was born on August 18, 1927, in Plains, Georgia, where she grew up and met her future husband, Jimmy Carter, who was three years her senior.
They married in 1946 after Jimmy graduated from the United States Naval Academy and went around the country and the world as a Navy officer. After Jimmy’s father died in 1953, they moved to Plains and took over the family peanut plantation and company.
Rosalynn Carter was a staunch supporter of her husband’s political career, which began with his election to the Georgia Senate in 1962 and ended with his presidency from 1977 to 1981. She campaigned for him, advised him, and traveled with him on local and international visits.
She was the first lady to attend Cabinet meetings and occupy an office in the White House’s East Wing. She also served as her husband’s ambassador to Latin America in 1977, and she was instrumental in the talks for the Panama Canal Accords.
Jimmy Carter referred to his wife as his “equal partner” and “best friend” in his memoirs and interviews. They had a strong Christian faith, a commitment to human rights, and a desire to serve the public.
They also endured difficulties and sorrows together, including the death of their infant daughter Amy in 1958, the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, and their unsuccessful re-election effort in 1980.
A Legacy of Advocacy and Compassion
Rosalynn Carter was noted for her significant contributions to mental health reform and her involvement in elevating the standing of the president’s spouse. She became interested in mental health when she was Georgia’s first lady from 1971 to 1975 and saw the state’s mental facilities in poor condition.
As first lady of the United States, she made mental health one of her top objectives, assisting in the enactment of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980, which aimed to enhance the funding and quality of mental health services.
After leaving the White House in 1981, she continued to work for mental health and other causes. In 1987, she established the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers at her alma mater, Georgia Southwestern State University, to support and empower family and professional caregivers.
She and her husband also co-founded the Carter Center in 1982 to promote global peace, democracy, and human rights. She and her husband helped to grow the nonprofit housing organization Habitat for Humanity and traveled to over 80 countries to watch elections, resolve conflicts, and battle diseases.
She also wrote several books, including “First Lady from Plains” (1984), a memoir of her White House years; “Everything to Gain: Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life” (1987), which she co-authored with her husband; “Helping Yourself Help Others: A Book for Caregivers” (1994); and “Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis” (2010).
A Tribute From the Nation and the World
Rosalynn Carter’s passing drew sympathies and tributes from politicians, celebrities, and everyday residents alike. President Joe Biden, who was close to the Carters, released a statement saying that he and his wife Jill were “deeply saddened” by the news and that they “will miss her dearly.
He described her as “a trailblazer, a role model, and a tireless advocate for the voiceless” who “made our country and the world a better place.”
Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle also expressed their condolences and appreciation for Rosalynn Carter, describing her as “a gracious, warm, and steady presence” as well as “a fierce and impressive force for good.
They were “inspired by her example of service, generosity, and grace,” and they “will always be grateful for her friendship and kindness.”
Other previous presidents and first ladies honored Rosalynn Carter’s life and legacy, including George W. and Laura Bush, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and George H.W. and Barbara Bush. They emphasized her contributions to the country and the world, her love for her family and faith, and her strength and dignity in the face of hardship.
Rosalynn Carter private funeral service will be held in Plains, Georgia, on November 23, 2023, and a public memorial service will be held in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 25, 2023, according to the Carter Center.
Donations can also be donated to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers or the Carter Center in place of flowers, according to the center.
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