Rosalynn Carter, the former first lady and advocate for mental health care, passed away at the age of 96 at her home in Plains, Georgia, as reported by the Carter Center. Widely recognized for her political acumen and down-to-earth appeal, she served as a steadfast advisor to her husband, former one-term Democrat President Jimmy Carter.
In 2003, Carter expressed optimism about the progress in mental health care, stating, “Twenty-five years ago, we did not dream that people might someday be able actually to recover from mental illnesses.” She played a crucial role in shedding light on mental health issues and advocating for positive change.
In late May, the Carter Center disclosed that Rosalynn Carter had been diagnosed with dementia, and she continued to live happily at home with her husband, enjoying the support of loved ones. Her passing marks the end of an era, making her the longest-lived first lady since Bess Truman.
Post-White House, the Carters garnered admiration for their humanitarian projects, particularly their involvement with Habitat for Humanity. They were recognized as “tireless advocates, active fundraisers, and some of our best hands-on construction volunteers.”
Rosalynn Carter, born in Plains, Georgia, faced early challenges with the loss of her father at the age of 13. Despite assuming additional responsibilities alongside her mother, she completed high school and enrolled at Georgia Southwestern College. Her life took a turn when, in 1945, she went on a date with Jimmy Carter, whom she would marry the following year.
Throughout their life together, the Carters navigated the challenges of a Navy family, with their four children born in different states due to frequent relocations. Rosalynn actively supported Jimmy’s political career, contributing to his successful bid for the Georgia governorship in 1970 and advising his grassroots presidential campaign in 1976.
During Jimmy Carter’s presidency, Rosalynn distinguished herself as an active participant, attending Cabinet meetings, speaking on behalf of the White House, and serving as a personal envoy to Latin American nations. Despite the challenges and criticisms faced during Jimmy Carter’s presidency, the couple continued their commitment to humanitarian causes post-White House.
The Carters’ legacy includes the establishment of the Carter Center and the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, reflecting their dedication to human rights and mental health advocacy. Their impact was recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999, awarded by President Bill Clinton.
In recent years, the Carters maintained a lower public profile, but their influence persisted. Their recorded video tribute to Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential election exemplified their ongoing commitment to public service. Rosalynn Carter’s passing marks the end of a remarkable chapter in American history, leaving behind a legacy of advocacy, compassion, and dedication to improving the lives of people around the world.