Eleanor Rosalynn Carter, born and raised in Plains, Georgia, graduated as valedictorian from Plains High School before attending Georgia Southwestern College, where she completed her education in 1946. Her admiration for her future husband, President Jimmy Carter, began with a photograph of him in his U.S. Naval Academy uniform, leading to their marriage that same year.
Playing a pivotal role in her husband’s successful bid for the governorship of Georgia in 1970, Rosalynn Carter directed her focus toward mental health initiatives during her tenure as the state’s first lady. She later championed her husband’s presidential campaign in 1976, resulting in his victory over incumbent Republican president Gerald Ford.
Transitioning to discussing Rosalynn Carter’s death, on November 17, 2023, she entered hospice care and passed away two days later at her home in Plains, Georgia, due to natural causes at the age of 96. In addition to her remarkable life, her legacy of awards and recognitions continues to be of immense interest to many.
Rosalynn Carter’s Death: Tributes From Her Children
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter passed away at the age of 96 at her home in Plains, Georgia, on Sunday, November 19. Among those honoring her is her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, who described her as his equal partner in all his accomplishments.
He credited her wise counsel and unwavering support throughout their 77 years of marriage. The deep connection between Rosalynn and Jimmy began in their childhood, as they were lifelong sweethearts. Interestingly, Rosalynn was even delivered by Jimmy’s mother at the time of her birth.
Their journey together continued when, after a blind date, a young Jimmy told his mother, “That’s the girl I want to marry.” They exchanged vows in 1946 and went on to raise four children across different locations: John William (Jack) in Portsmouth, Virginia; James Earl III (Chip) in Honolulu; Donnel Jeffery (Jeff) in New London, Connecticut; and Amy in Plains.
Chip, one of their children, praised his mother’s legacy as an exceptional humanitarian and role model for Americans, particularly in her dedication to mental health advocacy and caregiving resources. Rosalynn Carter, surviving the Carters’ 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren, stood as the second longest-lived First Lady in U.S. history. Bess Truman remains the longest-lived, passing away at the age of 97.
Rosalynn Carter’s Legacy Of Awards
In 1999, Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter were honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Recognizing her contributions, Rosalynn Carter was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York, in 2001, becoming the third First Lady to receive this honor alongside Abigail Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Throughout her dedicated service, Rosalynn received various accolades, including the Dorothea Dix Award from the Mental Illness Foundation in 1988, the Jefferson Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged in 1996, and the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health from the Institute of Medicine in 2000.
She and Jimmy Carter were also jointly awarded the American Peace Award in 2009. Recognitions of her contributions extended to honorary degrees from several institutions, including the University of Notre Dame in 1987, Emory University in 1991, Georgia Southwestern State University in 2001, and Queen’s University in 2012.
Rosalynn Carter’s impact expanded through roles as the distinguished centennial lecturer at Agnes Scott College from 1988 to 1992 and as a Distinguished Fellow at the Emory University Department of Women’s Studies in Atlanta from 1989 to 2018.