Rosalynn Carter, the beloved former first lady of the United States and a passionate advocate for mental health care, passed away at the age of 96 on Sunday morning. The Carter Center confirmed her death at her home in Plains, Georgia. Rosalynn and her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, were married for 77 years. Jimmy Carter expressed his deep admiration for his wife, stating that she was his equal partner in all his accomplishments. He credited her wise guidance and unwavering support for his success. Throughout Jimmy Carter’s political career, Rosalynn was his biggest champion, campaigning vigorously for him and demonstrating a stronger determination to win than her husband.
After Jimmy Carter was elected president in 1976, Rosalynn transformed the role of first lady into a full-time job. She was the first presidential spouse to establish an office in the East Wing and hire a full staff. She was known to carry a briefcase filled with papers to the office every day. Rosalynn became a trusted adviser to the president, actively participating in foreign and domestic affairs. She held weekly meetings with Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office, showcasing her influential role.
Rosalynn Carter’s impact extended beyond the White House. She dedicated herself to promoting mental health care and advocating for human rights worldwide. She fought for gender equality, supporting the Equal Rights Amendment, and worked tirelessly to improve the lives of vulnerable children and their families. Colleagues, friends, and observers described her as genuine, warm, and selfless. Despite her many accomplishments, Rosalynn cared more about helping people than material possessions. She will be remembered as a strong, disciplined woman with extraordinary empathy for others.
In her later years, Rosalynn remained active, traveling with her husband, managing The Carter Center, and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. The Carters lived modestly in their one-story ranch in Plains. They continued to make a difference through the Carter Center, which strives to improve the quality of life, alleviate suffering, and advance human rights. Rosalynn created the Carter Center’s Mental Health program to combat the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illnesses. She also established the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism to encourage in-depth reporting on mental health.
The Carters became champions for Habitat for Humanity in the 1980s, starting the annual Jimmy Carter Work Project. This week-long home building effort has expanded to various cities and countries, with the Carters and around 1,200 volunteers participating each year. Rosalynn Carter will be remembered as an extraordinary leader who dedicated her life to helping others. Her compassionate nature and unwavering determination to create positive change will leave a lasting legacy.