The influential former first lady and mental health champion Rosalynn Carter passes away.

According to the Carter Center, Rosalynn Carter, the late president Jimmy Carter’s wife and a longstanding supporter of mental health and humanitarian causes, passed away on Sunday at her Plains, Georgia, home surrounded by her loved ones. She was ninety-six years old.

On Friday, the Carter Center said that Rosalynn Carter was receiving hospice care. In January, her family revealed that she was recently diagnosed with dementia. Since February, 99-year-old Jimmy Carter has been receiving hospice care.

“In everything I ever achieved, Rosalynn was my equal partner,” the former president declared in a statement. She gave me wise counsel and motivation when I needed it. Rosalynn’s presence in the world ensured that I always have love and support from someone.”

In a joint statement published on Sunday, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden paid tribute to the “hope, warmth, and optimism” of the former first lady. They commended Carter for her efforts on behalf of topics such as mental health challenges and equal rights. According to the White House statement, Rosalynn Carter’s life and legacy have made the lives of countless individuals “better, fuller, and brighter.”

Rosalynn Carter was also lauded on Sunday by former first lady Laura Bush and former president George W. Bush, who described her as “a woman of dignity and strength.”

“They were Presidents Carter’s strongest supporters, and their cooperation was a wonderful example of commitment and allegiance. She has made a significant contribution to the de-stigmatization of mental”They were the biggest allies of President Carter, and their collaboration was an amazing display of dedication and loyalty. health. In a prepared statement, the two added, “We join our fellow citizens in sending our condolences to President Carter and their family.”

From 1977 until 1981, Rosalynn Carter held the position of first lady. The media nicknamed her the “Steel Magnolia” because of the harshness that concealed the tender exterior that she wore. She served as Jimmy Carter’s closest political advisor during his tenure in public service. She also extended the position beyond hostess responsibilities, revolutionizing and professionalizing the first lady job.

She was actively involved in humanitarian work through the Carter Center in Atlanta, which she and her husband built after leaving the White House, and spent the most of her life in Plains, the hometown of the Carter family.

A brief relationship with Jimmy Carter

Eleanor Rosalynn Smith was born in Plains, a little rural town with fewer than a thousand residents, in 1927. Her life revolved on her church and school.

Carter, who was raised during the Great Depression, frequently claimed that because so few people in her immediate environment were wealthy, she was unaware that her family was impoverished.

In addition to being the first auto shop owner in the county, her father was a farmer. Carter, the oldest of four siblings, took on the job of caregiver after her father passed away from cancer when she was just 13 years old.

Senior official at the Carter Center Kathy Cade, who worked with Carter in the White House, said of her, “She came from humble roots.” “She was really a woman of In terms of how rural South living was structured at the time, it was virtually the late 19th century.”

She had met but not really gotten to know Jimmy Carter, the elder brother of her close friend Ruth Carter, when she was a teenager and she saw a picture of him.

“Kate Anderson Brower, the author of First Women, said that Rosalynn believed Jimmy was the most attractive man she had ever seen when she saw a picture of him on her closest pal’s wall.” “And she asked Ruth if she could take his picture home.”

When she was a student at Georgia Southwestern College and he was a student at the U.S. Naval Academy, the two went on their first date in 1945. The next year, they tied the knot, beginning a union that would span almost 75 years.

Carter took care of their three small boys and ran the family while her husband was serving in the Navy. Amy, their daughter, was raised at the White House for a portion of her early years.

Jimmy Carter’s parents returned to Plains and took over the family’s peanut plantation in Sumter County in 1953 following Jimmy Carter’s father’s death. Jimmy Carter turned that economic relationship into a political one in 1962 when he announced his candidacy for Georgia state Senate. Rosalynn Carter became Georgia’s first lady after Jimmy was elected governor of the state in 1970.

But according to Cade, she “felt overwhelmed” by her new job and by life in the spotlight when she got to the governor’s residence.

“In the beginning it was very stressful, but she rapidly adapted,” stated Cade. The woman realized that her faith was going to help her deal with the stresses of this very new and challenging situation.”

Carter spoke up for her spouse and the need for mental health services.

Carter spent over two years around the nation campaigning after her husband announced his intention to run for president. She was a quiet person by nature and a cautious public speaker, but on the campaign trail, Brower said, she came alive and worked “tirelessly” to present her husband, who was unknown outside of Georgia, to the nation.

The woman would look for the tallest antenna in any town and she would head there because that was the TV or radio station,” Brower stated.

Carter’s tenure as first lady brought in a new era following her husband’s election to the presidency.

She was just the second first lady to speak before Congress and attended Cabinet sessions. She handled the position well, according to Brower, as shown by the fact that she was the first spouse of a president to regularly bring a briefcase to work.

Carter’s mental health was his first concern in the White House. Years ago, when running for office around Georgia, she heard from folks whose family members were experiencing mental health issues, and that’s when she became passionate about it.

At the time, Carter was worried about the lack of community-based mental health treatment in Georgia, particularly for children, and the state’s use of hospitals and other facilities with a history of mistreating patients.

Carter pushed her husband to form a governor’s panel on mental health while she was the first lady of Georgia. The group presented a significant proposal to move treatment from major facilities to community centers.

“She really began to work in this country to modernize mental health treatment,” said Cade.

Carter was also a pioneer in the fight to lessen the stigma associated with mental illness. In speeches, he frequently referred to mental health treatment as “a basic human right.” One of several accomplishments at least partially attributable to his wife’s work in the United States and throughout the world is the signing of the Mental Health Systems Act by President Carter in 1980, which provided funding for community mental health clinics.

After the White House, life

The Carters declared their return to Plains to be a “involuntary retirement” after Jimmy Carter lost his reelection campaign in 1980; Rosalynn Carter may have found this move more challenging than her husband.

“She severely believed that her husband was the best person to be president of the United States,” Cade said. “She honestly believed that there was still work to be achieved.”

In 1987, Carter said to NPR that she used her work on their Plains house as a diversion from the heartbreaking loss.

“We had no idea what our future careers would entail. And suddenly we had to organize the house,” she remarked. “We’d been absent for 10 years from the house.”

The Carter Center was established shortly after by the former president and first wife, with an emphasis on several causes, such as monitoring elections globally and attempting to almost completely eliminate Guinea worm disease in some regions of Asia and Africa.

The Carters were given the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bill Clinton in 1999, who stated that they had accomplished “more good things for more people and more places greater than every other pair on the planet.”

The Carters celebrated their 75th anniversary in 2019—two years after becoming the longest-married presidential couple. Together, they experimented a lot and developed a lengthy list of common interests, including tennis, skiing, fly-fishing, bird-watching, and turkey hunting.

In 2015, Jimmy Carter declared, “Marrying Rosa was the best thing I ever did.”

Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter have four children, twelve grandkids, and fourteen great-grandchildren.

In response to a question once, the former first lady stated, “I would like people to think I took advantage of the opportunities I had and did the best I could.”



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