Rosalynn Carter Obituary - Memoriam
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, 96, died in Plains, GA, on November 19, 2023. She served as First Lady from 1977 to 1981 while her husband, Jimmy Carter, served as the 39th President of the United States. She was born on August 18, 1927, in Plains, GA, the hometown of her future husband. Rosalynn and Jimmy married in 1946, just after he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. Their 77 years together is the longest marriage of any Presidential couple.
In a statement upon her death, President Jimmy Carter said, “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.”
One of Mrs. Carter’s lasting legacies comes from her work—before, during, and after her time as First Lady—as an advocate for mental health.
While Jimmy Carter served as Governor of Georgia, Mrs. Carter led a passionate fight against the stigma of mental illnesses and worked to overhaul the state’s mental health care system.
She continued to advocate for mental health while in the White House. As honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health, she held hearings across the country, testified before Congress, and presented the President with the commission’s recommendations for sweeping reforms to mental health policy and programs. This work led to the passage of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980.
As First Lady, Mrs. Carter promoted women’s rights, supported relief efforts for Cambodian refugees, organized White House Roundtable Discussion on Aging, and promoted immunizations for children.
After leaving the White House, President and Mrs. Carter founded the Carter Center in 1982. The Center has programs throughout the developing world to resolve conflict, advance democracy, and ease suffering from disease.
In 2000, the Carter Center and Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health established the Rosalynn Carter Endowed Chair in Mental Health to honor Mrs. Carter’s lifelong commitment to mental health advocacy. It is the first endowed chair in mental health policy at a school of public health.
Rosalynn Carter is survived by her husband, Jimmy, and their children John (Jack), James Earl III (Chip), and Donnel (Jeff), and Amy.