Monday, November 20, 2023 – Rosalynn Carter, the former first lady of the United States and the closest adviser to Jimmy Carter during his one term as president, has died at age 96.
Rosalynn Carter passed away peacefully with family by her side at her rural Georgia home of Plains after living with dementia and suffering many months of declining health, the Carter Center said on Sunday, Nov. 19, in a statement.
“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, said. “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.”
The Carter Center announced Friday, Nov. 17 that the former first lady had entered hospice care. She was diagnosed with dementia in May. Her husband began home hospice care in February, following a series of hospital stays.
Jimmy Carter was defeated in a landslide by Ronald Reagan four years after being elected. His single term in the White House included forging a rare peace agreement between Israel and Egypt.
After leaving the White House, the couple traveled to hot spots around the world, including to Cuba, Sudan and North Korea, monitoring elections and working to eradicate Guinea worm disease and other neglected tropical diseases. Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
“The Carter Center is a shared legacy. She’s been there digging latrines right next to him,” said the Carters’ friend Jill Stuckey, a leader at Maranatha Baptist Church, where both Carters attended and where Jimmy Carter taught Sunday school.
US First lady Jill Biden celebrated Rosalynn Carter’s life on Sunday, telling service members and their families at a Naval Station Norfolk holiday event, “The former first lady Rosalynn Carter has just passed. And she was well known for her efforts on mental health and caregiving and women’s rights.”
“And so I hope that during the holidays you’ll … include the Carter family in your prayers,” Jill Biden added.
President Joe Biden praised the Carter family while speaking to reporters after the holiday event.
“They’re really an incredible family because they brought so much grace to the office,” he said.
Former President George W. Bush and former first lady Laura Bush also praised Rosalynn Carter as “a woman of dignity and strength.”
“There was no greater advocate of President Carter, and their partnership set a wonderful example of loyalty and fidelity. She leaves behind an important legacy in her work to destigmatize mental health. We join our fellow citizens in sending our condolences to President Carter and their family,” they said in a joint statement.