The Carter Center announced today, Nov. 19, the death of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, the wife of the 39th President, Jimmy Carter. Carter died peacefully at their home in Plains, GA. She was 96 years old.
Carter entered hospice care this month, six months after her diagnosis with dementia. Former President Jimmy Carter has been in hospice care at home since February 2023, discontinuing treatment for an aggressive form of melanoma skin cancer. The Carters have been married for 77 years, the longest presidential marriage in U.S. history.
In a statement released on behalf of the former 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,” Carter said.
President Joseph Biden said he had spoken to the Carter family earlier today. Biden expressed his condolences on behalf of the nation:
“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 a better, fuller, and brighter because of the life and legacy of Rosalynn Carter,” the Bidens said.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama joined in exhorting Carter’s faith and accomplishments especially, the transformation of the role of the First Lady:
“Guided by her abiding faith and commitment to service, Mrs. Carter used her platform in profoundly meaningful ways. Her groundbreaking work to combat the stigma faced by those struggling with their mental health brought light to so many suffering in silence. She advocated for better care for the elderly. She advanced women’s rights. And she remained a champion for those causes — and many others, like building affordable housing for those in need and caring for our nation’s caregivers — in the more than four decades that followed.
“When our family was in the White House, every so often, Rosalynn would join me for lunch, offering a few words of advice and always, always, a helping hand. She reminded me to make the role of First Lady my own, just like she did. I’ll always remain grateful for her support and her generosity.
“Today, Barack and I join the world in celebrating the remarkable legacy of a First Lady, philanthropist, and advocate who dedicated her life to lifting others. Her life reminds us that no matter who we are, our legacies are best measured not in awards or accolades but in the lives we touch. We send our thoughts and prayers to Jimmy and the entire Carter family during this difficult time,” Former First Lady Michelle Obama said.
Carter was one of the most involved First Ladies, a staunch champion of mental health treatment for all and human rights; she instrumentally encouraged President Carter to bring Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat together for their historic peace talks in 1978. According to White House archives, Mrs. Carter was the first to formally claim office space in the East Wing, a practice that all First Ladies have followed.
Rosalynn Carter was born Eleanor Rosalynn Smith on August 18, 1927, the eldest of four children born to Wilburn Edgar Smith and Frances “Allie” Murray Smith. She is survived by her children, Jack, Chip, Jeff and Amy; 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, the Carter Center said.