Rosalynn Carter, Wife Of Jimmy Carter, Dies At 96

Rosalynn Carter, wife of former President Jimmy Carter, died at her home in Georgia at 96. Tributes to the former First Lady have poured in, particularly from those in the medical profession, with some describing her as a pioneer for health.

Jennifer Olsen, leader of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, said, “Mrs. Carter wanted a more caring society,” while a Dallas nurse described driving 12 hours to Georgia to lay a wreath for Mrs. Carter and to thank her for her inspiration. Elizabeth Laudig said Carter was “not a showy or extravagant first lady” but one who “got things done for people.”

A spokesperson for the Carters announced in November that she had been admitted to a hospice, where she joined President Carter, her husband of more than 70 years, who had been there since February. In a statement from the Carter Center, the former President is quoted as saying, “Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished. She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it.”

Born Eleanor Rosalynn Smith in 1927 in Plains, Georgia, she grew up in a town with fewer than 600 residents. Her husband was also born and raised there, and they married in 1946. Rosalynn campaigned alongside Jimmy Carter when he ran for Governor of Georgia in 1970, and during her time as the state’s First Lady, she began her work on improving the lives of those suffering from severe mental health conditions.

Mrs. Carter was appointed to the Governor’s Commission to Improve Services for the Mentally and Emotionally Handicapped in 1971, and many of her recommendations became state law. When Jimmy Carter entered the White House in 1977, her work in the field continued. She chaired the President’s Commission on Mental Health, helping to enact the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980, which provided grants to community mental health centers.

The couple had four children – Amy, Jack, Donnel, and James.