Former first lady and tireless humanitarian Rosalyn Carter dies at 96

Rosalyn Carter, the Georgia-born former first lady and humanitarian who continued to provide political advice to her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, and modeled beautiful longevity for the nation, died Sunday at her home in Plains, Georgia. According to the Carter Center.

Carter was 96. He entered hospice care at home on Friday.

He is widely regarded for his political acumen, his keen electoral instincts, grassroots appeal, and particular praise for his work on behalf of the White House, including serving as ambassador to Latin America.

Carter devoted himself to many social causes during his public career, including health resources, human rights, social justice, and projects supporting the needs of the elderly.

“Twenty-five years ago, we never dreamed that people would one day actually recover from mental illnesses,” Carter said. A Psychiatric Symposium In 2003. “It’s a very real possibility today.”

“For someone who has worked in mental health issues as long as I have, this is a wonderful development and an answer to my prayers,” she added.

First Lady Rosalyn Carter greets people during a campaign event in New Hampshire on October 24, 1979.Diana Walker/Getty Images File

In late May, the couple’s human rights group, the Carter Center, announced that she was suffering from dementia. “She is happily living at home with her husband, enjoying spring in the plains and visiting with loved ones,” the organization said in a statement.

According to the National First Ladies Library, Bess Truman, wife of President Harry Truman, was the first lady to succeed Rosalyn Carter. (Truman died in 1982, aged 97.) Jimmy and Rosalind were the longest-married presidential couple in American history.

The Carters won praise for their humanitarian projects after leaving the White House. They were closely linked to Habitat for Humanity. Considered by charity “Tireless advocates, active fundraisers and some of our best construction volunteers.”

Eleanor Rosalyn Smith was born in Plains, Georgia on August 18, 1927, the first of four children raised by Alethea Murray Smith and Wilburn Edgar Smith. Rosaline’s father died when she was 13, and her mother became a dressmaker to provide for her family.

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Losing her father at such a young age, Rosaline was forced to take on additional responsibilities with her mother. But the family unit managed to survive.

Roslyn graduated from high school and attended Georgia Southwestern College. In 1945, following her freshman year, she went on a date with Jimmy Carter, a childhood friend of the family who was home from the US Naval Academy.

President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosaleen dance at the annual Congressional Christmas Ball at the White House on December 13, 1978.Ira Schwarz / AP File

“She’s the girl I want to marry,” Jimmy Carter told his mother after their first trip, according to a compiled biography. White House Historical Society.

They married the following year on July 7, 1946. After graduation they relocated to Norfolk, Virginia, Jimmy’s first duty station. But life as a Navy family often had to go through them.

All four of their children were born in different states: John William in Virginia, James Earl III in Hawaii, Donnell Jeffrey in Connecticut, and their only daughter, Amy Lynn, in Georgia.

Jimmy’s father died in 1953, sending the couple to the plains to run the family peanut business. Rosalyn soon began working for the company full-time, assisting with accounting and other front-office functions.

Jimmy decided to embark on a political career in the early 1960s, winning a seat in the Georgia State Senate in 1962.

He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1966; During that campaign, Rosalyn learned more about the challenges faced by people with mental illness Mentioned again in Time magazine in 2010.

“The more I thought about it and found out about it, the more I thought it was a horrible situation that was careless,” he said.

Rosalyn Carter works during a Life for Humanity event on June 21, 2005 in Benton Harbor, Mich.R. Diamond / WireImage file

Rosalyn helped lay the groundwork for her husband’s successful bid for governor of Georgia in 1970, and six years later, advised her husband’s grassroots presidential campaign. Political reporters noticed his exuberance on the trail.

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“Rosalyn Carter, 49, the candidate’s wife, is campaigning with the tireless race-horse type of energy that has characterized Carter’s work for the past 18 months,” wrote US News & World Report in May 1976.

“Not only that: Mrs. Carter is her husband’s most influential political adviser, top aides say,” the article’s author added.

Rosaline attracted particular attention by skillfully mobilizing voters and winning support for her husband. In an unusual move for the era, she traveled the country on her own, making the case for her husband on her own terms.

“Mrs. Carter, soft-spoken and understated, prefers face-to-face meetings with voters,” wrote US News & World Report in June 1976. “He has scheduled frequent sit-ins at factory gates and shopping centers in his campaign across 30 states.”

Jimmy, running as a political outsider and a symbolic break from the post-Watergate era, defeated President Gerald Ford in 1976. The press quickly learned that Rosaline would not be content to be on the sidelines in Washington.

“Rosalyn Carter will not simply be an East Side ornament, a First Lady content to redecorate the White House or preside over soirees,” Newsweek’s Jane Whitmore wrote in January 1977.

Rosalyn told Whitmore, “There’s a lot you can do, and there are things I want to do. I want to work on mental health and geriatric issues—independently, on my own.”

Former President Jimmy Carter, right, and his wife, Rosalyn, walk through farmland in their hometown of Plains, Feb. 8, 2017.David Goldman / AP File

“Jimmy always talks to me when he’s picking the vice president or the cabinet,” he added. “I have always been involved in meetings. I always tell him what I think, even if I don’t agree – and I will continue to do so.

Rosaline established herself as an integral part of her husband’s administration.

He joined Cabinet meetings, attended major conferences, spoke on behalf of the White House at ceremonial meetings, served as an honorary member of the Mental Health Commission, and traveled to Latin American countries as the President’s personal envoy.

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Jimmy Carter’s presidency itself was viewed as a mixed bag, and many Americans—including some Democrats—believed that he was an ineffective commander, especially as the Iranian hostage crisis dominated headlines in late 1979.

Rosalyn worked tirelessly to get her husband re-elected to a second term in 1980 – a campaign Jimmy lost to former Hollywood star and California governor Ronald Reagan.

She is said to be exhausted by the loss of her husband and the outright rejection of her presidency by many voters. But he made it clear to political reporters that he was trying to look to the future.

“I think you accept that,” Rosalin was quoted as saying in a November 1980 article by longtime UPI reporter Helen Thomas. “Once you’ve done all you can do, that’s all you can do. It’s out of our hands.”

She vowed to “speak out” on issues close to her heart: “You go from one phase of your life to the next. … I think it’s exciting.

The next phase of Rosalyn Carter’s life was fruitful. She wrote several books, including the 1984 memoir “First Lady from the Plains” and three books on mental health.

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

The Carters were committed to improving the lives of people around the world, winning many awards and honors along the way.

In 1982, they founded the Carter Center, a non-profit human rights organization co-founded with Emory University in Atlanta. Seven years later, she founded the Rosalyn Carter Institute for Caregiving at Georgia Southwestern State University.

Feb. 18, 1977 First Lady Rosalyn Carter in the Vermeil Room of the White House.White House via AP file

Conducted Annual Symposia For more than three decades, the Carter Center has brought together experts and advocates to discuss mental health, family coping, funding care services, supporting research and reducing stigma.

Both were awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom By President Bill Clinton in August 1999. clinton, Carter speaks at the CenterThe couple was praised for their humanitarian achievements.

“We rarely honor two men who have devoted themselves so effectively to advancing freedom in those ways,” Clinton said. “Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter have done good things for more people in more places than any other couple on the face of the earth.”

In recent years, the Carters have made fewer public appearances. But they registered during the 2020 presidential election A video tribute to Joe Biden Broadcast during the televised portion of the Democratic National Convention.

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