Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter Passes Away At 96

( – On Nov. 19, former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, 96, died peacefully at home with her family by her side.

Her death comes two days after it was announced that she had joined her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, in hospice care at their Plains, Georgia, home. In May, it was announced she had been diagnosed with dementia.

Carter stated his wife “was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished.” He said he “always knew somebody loved and supported me” when she was in the world.

On Aug. 18, 1927, Eleanor Rosalynn Smith was born in Plains, Georgia. She was the eldest of four children, and graduated from Georgia Southwestern College. Rosalynn met Jimmy in 1945 and the couple was married in 1946. They moved around while Jimmy was in the Navy but ended up back in Plains after his father died in 1953. In 1962, Rosalynn helped Jimmy with his political campaign for the Georgia state Senate. She also supported her husband’s ambitions in 1970 with his gubernatorial bid for governor and his 1977 bid for the White House.

Rosalynn expanded the role of the first lady. She had an office in the East Wing, with its own staff, where she worked on her initiatives, which complemented her husband’s dedication to the less fortunate. She campaigned for those who have disabilities, for women’s rights, and against the stigma surrounding mental health issues. She attended top-level meetings with the president’s advisers.

Rosalynn was an honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health, which worked on the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980. In 1987, she founded the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, which promotes family caregivers’ well-being and mental health.

She wrote five books, including the 1984 autobiography she co-wrote with Jimmy about their life after politics.

In a statement, President Joe Biden said the former first lady “did so much to address many of society’s greatest needs.” Former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush said that Rosalynn Carter “leaves behind an important legacy” for her work with mental health.

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