Just a few days ago it was announced that former First Lady of the United States Rosalynn Carter had entered hospice care along with husband President Jimmy Carter at the Plains, Georgia home. Carter died November 19, 2023 at the age of 96. She was diagnosed with dementia in May.
She and the President were married for 77 years; many of which were in the one story ranch home they built in the 1960’s.
The 39th President spoke on his wife Rosalynn via a statement saying, “Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished. She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.”
On the campaign trail, Carter was an ardent supporter of her husband and campaigned tirelessly for her husband on the campaign trail.
As First Lady she was a very strong advocate for mental health care and awareness – something she started back when Jimmy care and was the Governor of Georgia after discovering the dismal services that were available.
Prior to Jimmy Carter becoming President, the role of the First Lady was more of a figurehead with no staff or office. Rosalynn changed all that. It was her who set up an office in the White House and hired a full time staff. Like her husband, she arrived at the office each day with a brief case filled with work.
She was frequently seen at her husband’s side wherever he went; helping to support his fight for human rights, along with her support for mental health care, the Equal Rights Amendment, and issues facing the elderly. She was also an advocate for immunizations for children.
The oldest of four, Eleanor Rosalynn Smith was born in Plains on Aug. 18, 1927. Her father died when she was just 13 years old and not only finished high school but graduated from Georgia Southwestern College while helping take care of her younger siblings.
She was just 18 years old when she started dating a young Navy officer on leave in 1945. They were married the following year. The Carters went on to have four children – three boys and a girl – with all four of them being born in different states – Virginia, Hawaii, Connecticut, and Georgia – due to Carter’s Navy career.
Jimmy’s mother Lillian was a nurse and delivered Rosalynn.
Along with being the First Lady of Georgia and the United States, Rosalynn Carter was the honourary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health, established the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism, and sat on numerous boards in Plains.
After leaving the White House, the Carters returned to Plains, Georgia where they opened the Carter Center – a non-profit organization dedicated to human rights and quality of life issues. They were also big advocates for Habitat for Humanity with Jimmy helping to build some of the homes.
Rosalynn is survived by her husband Jimmy, children John, James III, Donnel, and Amy -, and grandchildren.
Feature photo credit: Rosalynn Carter, official color photo, 1977.jpg
Rosalynn Carter, former First Lady of the United States. White House