Biden pays tribute to former first lady Rosalynn Carter: ‘She brought so much grace to office’
The Carter Center announced the former first lady’s death just two days after she entered hospice care at the couple’s home in Plains, Georgia. Rosalynn is survived by her husband, four children, 22 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and a legacy of mental health advocacy.
Jimmy Carter, 99, who is also in hospice care, paid tribute to his wife in a statement saying: “Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I 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.”
The Carter Center said there was “no update” on Mr Carter’s health.
On Tuesday, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation ordering flags to be flown at half-staff at the White House and all federal government buildings from 25 November until sunset on the day of interment.
A formal funeral will take place on Wednesday 29 November in Plains. Members of the public are invited to pay respects as Carter lies in repose at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum.
Chris Christie is first 2024 GOP candidate to speak about Rosalynn Carter
Former New Jersey Gov Chris Christie offered compassionate praise of the former first lady on Sunday, and was the only Republican 2024 candidate to have done so when his statement hit Twitter.
“Our prayers go out to the Carter family on the passing of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. She was a role model for selfless public service & the Carter marriage was an example of a true loving partnership. Mary Pat & I pray for her, President Carter and their entire family.”
Donald Trump’s wife Melania, also a former first lady, had issued a statement but her husband’s Truth Social feed remained quiet.
Rosalynn Carter: Advocate for Jimmy Carter and many others, always leveraging her love of politics
The Washington chattering class, often unsure what to make of outsiders, dubbed Rosalynn Carter the “Steel Magnolia” when she arrived as first lady.
A devout Baptist and mother of four, she was diminutive and outwardly shy, with a soft smile and softer Southern accent. That was the “magnolia.” She also was a force behind Jimmy Carter’s rise from peanut farmer to winner of the 1976 presidential election. That was the “steel.”
Yet that obvious, even trite moniker almost certainly undersold her role and impact across the Carters’ early life, their one White House term and their four decades afterward as global humanitarians advocating peace, democracy and the eradication of disease.
Through more than 77 years of marriage, until her death Sunday at the age of 96, Rosalynn Carter was business and political partner, best friend and closest confidant to the 39th president.
Former first lady died aged 96 on Sunday
MLK’s grandaughter memorialises ‘dear friend'
One of the tributes posted on Twitter Sunday evening after the death of Rosalynn Carter was emblematic of her family’s legacy — it came from Bernice King, granddaughter of murdered civil rights icon Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
“Her commitment to peace and tireless efforts, alongside her husband, former President #JimmyCarter, to make a positive impact on our nation and world will be remembered. Our hearts are with President Carter and the Carter family during this difficult time,” Ms King wrote in a pair of posts.
The last anniversary
Former President Carter celebrated their 77th wedding anniversary this summer.
“As we have looked back at their legacy, it has been really wonderful to see the outpouring of support and respect and love,” grandson Jason Carter said recently. “That word love is really the one that defines certainly their personal relationship, but also the way they approach this world.”
The pair have described their marriage as a “full partnership,” alluding to their experiences raising a family, running the peanut farm, their political career before and in the White House, and their consistent commitment to humanitarian causes.
“She’s the girl I want to marry,” Jimmy Carter reportedly told his mother after his first date with the then 17-year-old Rosalynn Smith.
A year later, in 1946, they got married.
Mr Carter ran successful campaigns for the Georgia state senate, the Georgia governor, and eventually the presidency, all with his wife by his side.
After President Carter’s 1980 defeat, the pair dedicated their efforts to humanitarian causes, including launching the Carter Center and building Habitat for Humanity houses.
Together, they raised four children, and 22 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Earlier this year, after former President Carter entered hospice care, their grandson remarked that the couple is in the “last chapter” of their lives. “They are still here, they are still holding hands and still very much together,” he said.
Who was Rosalynn Carter?
Eleanor Rosalynn Smith was born in Plains, Georgia on 18, August 1927. The nurse who delivered her was Lillian Carter, her future husband’s mother.
Rosalynn, the oldest child, was propelled to take on extra help around the house after her father died when she was just 13 years old. She helped take care of her siblings, sewed, and took on housekeeping chores.
Years later, she attended Georgia Southwestern College at Americus, where she met a man who would one day become president.
In 1946, the couple got married. They moved around while Jimmy Carter was in the navy, until he was forced back to his hometown of Plains to take over his family’s peanut farm. Rosalynn also started working on the farm full-time.
Once Mr Carter entered a life of public service, Rosalynn was his right hand. She helped run his many successful campaigns, as president she sat in on Cabinet meetings, and expressed an early interest in mental health advocacy.
The rest of their careers were marked by a life of public service. The pair built homes with Habitat for Humanity and founded the Carter Center, and aimed to end stigma around mental health afflictions.
A life of public service
Both Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter agreed later in life that she was the more political of the two, PBS reported.
She had ideas of her own, starting from when he was campaigning for a Georgia state senate seat. Ms Carter reportedly spoke to voters in line, including one mill worker who was caring for her child who was afflicted by mental illness.
“I want to know what you are going to do about mental health when you are governor,” she told her husband the following day. He vowed he would put her in charge of it. Rosalynn Carter then dedicated her lifelong efforts to improving mental health in Americans.
From 1977 to 1978, she served as the Honorary Chairperson of the President’s Commission on Mental Health. And after Mr Carter’s 1980 defeat, the couple founded the Carter Center, an institution dedicated to “human rights and the alleviation of human suffering.”
Donald Trump reacts to Rosalynn Carter’s death
Donald Trump has released a statement on Truth Social paying tribute to former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. Read his statement in full:
Melania and I join all Americans in mourning the loss of Rosalynn Carter. She was a devoted First Lady, a great humanitarian, a champion for mental health, and a beloved wife to her husband for 77 years, President Carter.
Over a life spanning nearly a century, Rosalynn Carter earned the admiration and gratitude of our entire nation. From her days as a U.S. Navy spouse, to the Georgia Governor’s Mansion, to her tenure as First Lady of the United States, and her later work at the Carter Center and volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, she leaves behind a legacy of extraordinary accomplishment and national service.
Our prayers are with the former president, the Carter family, and the entire community of Plains, Georgia, that she loved so much!
Last public outing
Former president Jimmy Carter and first lady Rosalynn Carter made a rare public appearance at a peanut festival in September in his hometown of Plains, Georgia.
The pair were driven in the annual festival’s parade in a black SUV.
“The Carters made the day for the thousands of attendees at the Plains Peanut Festival,” Jill Stuckey of the National Park Service’s Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains told the AJC. “What a wonderful surprise for everyone.”
The former president and first lady were driven in the annual festival’s parade in a black SUV
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden remember ‘dear friend’ Rosalynn Carter
Read the statement from President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden in full:
First Lady Rosalynn Carter walked her own path, inspiring a nation and the world along the way. Throughout her incredible life as First Lady of Georgia and the First Lady of the United States, Rosalynn did so much to address many of society’s greatest needs. She was a champion for equal rights and opportunities for women and girls; an advocate for mental health and wellness for every person; and a supporter of the often unseen and uncompensated caregivers of our children, aging loved ones, and people with disabilities. Above all, the deep love shared between Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter is the definition of partnership, and their humble leadership is the definition of patriotism. She lived her life by her faith. Time and time again, during the more than four decades of our friendship – through rigors of campaigns, through the darkness of deep and profound loss – we always felt the hope, warmth, and optimism of Rosalynn Carter. She will always be in our hearts. On behalf of a grateful nation, we send our love to President Carter, the entire Carter family, and the countless people across our nation and the world whose lives are better, fuller, and brighter because of the life and legacy of Rosalynn Carter. May God bless our dear friend. May God bless a great American.
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