Former First Lady and Humanitarian Rosalynn Carter Dies at 96
Former First Lady and mental health advocate Rosalynn Carter passed away peacefully on Sunday at the age of 96, according to a statement from The Carter Center.
Carter, who served as First Lady during her husband Jimmy Carter's presidency from 1977 to 1981, was known for her tireless efforts to improve mental health care in the US and around the world. She was also a champion for women's rights and played a crucial role in professionalizing the role of the president's spouse.
Her death was announced Friday when she entered hospice care. In May, she had been diagnosed with dementia. Her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, also entered hospice care this year following a series of health issues.
Tributes poured in from political leaders and members of the public, who remembered Carter as a devoted First Lady and a fierce advocate for mental health reform.
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden paid their respects to the Carter family while speaking to service members and their families at a Naval Station Norfolk holiday event on Sunday.
"The former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has just passed. And she was well known for her efforts on mental health and caregiving and women's rights," Jill Biden said. "So I hope that during the holidays you’ll ... include the Carter family in your prayers."
Former President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush also released a statement, calling Carter "a woman of dignity and strength."
"There was no greater advocate of President Carter, and their partnership set a wonderful example of loyalty and fidelity," they said. "She leaves behind an important legacy in her work to destigmatize mental health. We join our fellow citizens in sending our condolences to President Carter and their family."
The Carters' relationship was a true American story. They met as children in their small hometown of Plains, Georgia, and were married at the ages of 18 and 21. Throughout Jimmy Carter's political career, Rosalynn stood by his side, often whispering in his ear during speeches and advising him on major decisions.
After leaving the White House, the couple traveled the world, working on peace and human rights initiatives through their nonprofit organization, The Carter Center. They also devoted their time to The Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, which helps families and professional caregivers living with disabilities and illnesses.
In recognition of her lifetime of service, Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then-President Bill Clinton in 1999.
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter's impact on mental health and caregiving will never be forgotten. She leaves behind a lasting legacy of compassion and advocacy that will continue to inspire generations to come.