Former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter Dead at 96
© AP Photo / Ron HarrisThe former First Lady Rosalynn Carter speaks to the press at conference at The Carter Center on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019, in Atlanta. Carter enjoyed a light lunch in the audience as a panel discussion led by Judy Woodruff, anchor of PBS NewsHour, took center stage. The former First Lady made remarks about her upbringing as a caregiver and the health of her husband, former President Jimmy Carter.
© AP Photo / Ron Harris
Former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter died on Sunday at her Georgia home at the age of 96, a nonprofit she started together with her husband, ex-President Jimmy Carter, said in a statement.
"Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, a passionate champion of mental health, caregiving, and women’s rights, passed away Sunday, Nov. 19, at 2:10 p.m. at her home in Plains, Georgia, at the age of 96. She died peacefully, with family by her side," the Carter Center said.
Rosalynn was born Eleanor Rosalynn Smith in Plains, Georgia on August 18, 1927. She was the eldest of four children. Her mother, who became a widow when Rosalynn was 13, worked as a dressmaker to care for her family. After graduating high school Rosalynn went on to attend Georgia Southwestern College.
In 1945 after her freshman year she went on a date with Jimmy Carter. The couple married the following year and went on to have four children together. The 39th president of the United States, who is now 99, said Rosalynn was his equal partner in everything he had ever accomplished.
"She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me," he said.
Rosalynn, who served as an envoy to Latin America, was well regarded for her political astuteness. Much of her career and life were committed to serving social causes including programs that supported health care resources, human rights, social justice and the needs of the elderly, per one report.
“Twenty-five years ago, we did not dream that people might someday be able actually to recover from mental illnesses,” Rosalynn had said at a mental health symposium in 2003. “Today it is a very real possibility.”
“For one who has worked on mental health issues as long as I have,” she added, “this is a miraculous development and an answer to my prayers.”
The Carter family announced earlier this year that Rosalynn had dementia. She entered hospice care at home on Friday. Her husband is also receiving hospice care at their home in Plains.
The couple were very well linked to their work in humanitarian projects, including Habitat for Humanity; a global nonprofit housing organization working in local communities across the US, according to their website.
The organization responded to news of Rosalynn's death on X, writing: "We are deeply saddened to learn that Rosalynn Carter has died. She was a compassionate and committed champion of #HabitatforHumanity and worked fiercely to help families around the world."