By Parker Garlough
Former first lady Rosalynn Carter died Sunday at the age of 96 after living with dementia. The Carter Center described her death as peaceful, “with family by her side” in her rural Georgia home.
She took a greater political role than most first ladies before her: she represented her husband on trips abroad, sat in on Cabinet meetings, and championed political issues such as mental health and support for the elderly. Indeed, she and Jimmy Carter agreed that she had always been the more politically-minded between the two of them, and she was more devastated than he was at the results of the 1980 presidential election.
Her later humanitarian work included co-founding the Carter Center—where she chaired an annual mental health symposium as well as raising funds to assist the mentally ill and unhoused—and traveling to build houses with Habitat for Humanity.
The public will be able to celebrate her life at a repose on Nov. 27 at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. On Nov. 29, her funeral and interment will be broadcast on TV and streamed online, though attendance will be private.
“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” Jimmy Carter said in an official statement. “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.”