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Rosalynn Carter, Humanitarian and Former US First Lady, Passes Away at 96

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PLAINS, USA – Rosalynn Carter, the esteemed former US First Lady known for her enduring impact on mental health advocacy and her unwavering support to her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, passed away on Sunday, November 19, 2023 at their home in Plains, Georgia. She was 96.

The Carter Center confirmed her death, noting that Mrs. Carter had entered hospice care just days prior. Former President Carter, in a heartfelt statement, described her as his “equal partner” and a source of “wise guidance and encouragement.”

First lady Rosalynn Carter in the Vermeil Room of the White House on Feb. 18, 1977.White House via AP file
First lady Rosalynn Carter in the Vermeil Room of the White House on Feb. 18, 1977. | White House via AP file

Rosalynn Carter’s legacy extends beyond her role as a First Lady. She was celebrated for her political acumen, particularly her contributions to Jimmy Carter’s campaigns and her advocacy for various social causes. Her efforts spanned health care resources, human rights, social justice, and elder care.

At a 2003 mental health symposium, she expressed optimism about advancements in mental health, calling them a “miraculous development and an answer to my prayers.” Her commitment to these causes remained unwavering throughout her life.

Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter, sit together during a reception
Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn Carter, sit together during a reception to celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary in Plains, Ga., on July 10, 2021. | John Bazemore/Pool via AP file

The Carters’ humanitarian work, particularly with Habitat for Humanity, earned them widespread admiration. After leaving the White House, they continued to champion causes close to their hearts, including the establishment of the Carter Center and the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving.

Born Eleanor Rosalynn Smith in 1927 in Plains, Georgia, Rosalynn faced the challenge of her father’s death at a young age. Despite hardships, she excelled academically and married Jimmy Carter in 1946. Her support was instrumental in his political ascent, from Georgia’s state Senate to the presidency in 1976.

Described by the press as more than just a First Lady, Rosalynn Carter was an active participant in her husband’s administration, offering insights in Cabinet meetings and serving as an envoy to Latin America.

Former President Jimmy Carter, right, and his wife, Rosalynn, walk on
Former President Jimmy Carter, right, and his wife, Rosalynn, walk on farmland he owns in their hometown of Plains, Ga., on Feb. 8, 2017. | David Goldman/AP file

Despite the challenges faced during Jimmy Carter’s presidency, including the Iran hostage crisis, Rosalynn remained a steadfast figure. Her role in the 1980 re-election campaign, though unsuccessful, highlighted her dedication and political savvy.

Following their time in the White House, the Carters’ continued activism and writing earned them numerous accolades, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom awarded by President Bill Clinton in 1999.

Rosalynn Carter’s influence and achievements left an indelible mark on American politics and social advocacy. As the nation mourns her passing, her legacy of grace, determination, and compassion continues to inspire.

Rosalynn Carter
Rosalynn Carter works during a Habitat for Humanity event in Benton Harbor, Mich., on June 21, 2005. | R. Diamond/ WireImage file
First lady Rosalynn Carter greets people during a campaign event in New Hampshire on Oct. 24, 1979.Diana Walker / Getty Images file
First lady Rosalynn Carter greets people during a campaign event in New Hampshire on Oct. 24, 1979. | Diana Walker/Getty Images file
President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, dance at the annual Congressional Christmas Ball at the White House
President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, dance at the annual Congressional Christmas Ball at the White House on Dec. 13, 1978. | Ira Schwarz/AP file

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