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First Lady Rosalynn Carter dies at 96

President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter waving to inaugural ball guests on the evening of January 20, 1977. (Credit: Jimmy Carter Library)

ATLANTA (BP) – Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter passed away Sunday afternoon (Nov. 19) at the family’s home in Plains, Ga., the Carter Center announced Sunday. She was 96.

“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” President Jimmy Carter said.

“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 Carter.

The Carters were married for 77 years.  Jimmy Carter was the 39th president serving from 1977-1981.

She is survived by her children — Jack, Chip, Jeff, and Amy — and 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. A grandson died in 2015, according to the Carter Center.

“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,” said President Joe and First Lady Jill Biden in a statement.  

“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,” the presidential statement said.

The Carters were longtime members of Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Ga., where Pres. Carter taught a Sunday School class for more than 40 years.

“While the world is celebrating her social and political accomplishments, we should not fail to honor the fact that she and President Carter maintained a warm and healthy marriage for nearly eight full decades,” said SBC President Bart Barber.

Barber honored Carter for facing the challenges of raising three sons and a daughter in the public eye.

“She raised a family who celebrates her life today. She did all of this in the environment of state and national politics, the shoals upon which many families have foundered,” Barber said.

Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Brent Leatherwood reflected on her wide-ranging contributions to her family and humanitarian causes.

“Rosalynn Carter used her years to make a difference. Whether as a humanitarian leader, advisor to the President, advocate for mental health support, or faithful wife of 77 years, she was a model of service,” Leatherwood said.

The Carters were known to be outspoken about their faith and dedicated to humanitarian work such as Habitat for Humanity.

“It is because of all the ways she compassionately helped her neighbors, she, along with President Carter, was honored with the Christian Life Commission’s Distinguished Service Award in 1982,” Leatherwood said.

Funeral details will be posted at the Carter Center’s website.

“Her loss will be felt not only by the Carter family and the local Baptist church they served in, but millions around the globe who were touched by the example she set,” Leatherwood said.

    About the Author

  • Brandon Porter

    Brandon Porter serves as Associate Vice President for Convention News at the SBC Executive Committee

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