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Former US first lady, Rosalyn Carter dies at 96

Mrs Carter was born Eleanor Rosalynn Smith on 18 August 1927. Photo: The Carter Center

Former US First Lady, Rosalynn Carter, the wife of ex-President Jimmy Carter, passed away at the age of 96.

The Carter Center confirmed in a statement, that she died peacefully surrounded by family members.

It was revealed on Friday that she had moved into a Georgia hospice care facility and was spending time with her 99-year-old husband, who has been receiving hospice care since February. Mrs Carter was diagnosed with dementia in May.

“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” said Jimmy Carter in the statement.

In July 2023, they marked their 77th wedding anniversary as the longest-married first couple. She married President Carter on 7 July 1946 and they went on to have four children. She is also survived by 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, after losing a grandson in 2015.

Her Legacy

When her husband started his political career in the 1960s, serving first as a state senator, then a governor, and eventually president of Georgia, Mrs Carter was committed to promoting mental health awareness and mitigating the stigma associated with those who suffer from mental illnesses.

As the first lady of the United States, she became the honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health, which played a crucial role in enacting a 1980 law that assisted in funding regional mental health facilities. She also served as a member of a governor’s panel in Georgia that aimed to enhance care for the mentally ill.

After leaving Washington she and her husband founded the Carter Center in 1982, through which she continued her advocacy work for mental health, early childhood immunisation, and other humanitarian causes.

The couple were also key figures in the ‘Habitat for Humanity charity’, helping build homes for families in need. They received recognition for their humanitarian work in 2002 when Mr Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Writing by Jennifer Ogor; Editing by Julian Osamoto