Rosalynn Carter dies aged 96 days after entering hospice care

‘She was my equal’: Jimmy Carter pays tribute to his wife of 77-years Rosalynn after her death at 96 – two days after ex-First Lady entered hospice care suffering from dementia

  • Former first lady was married to President Jimmy Carter for 77 years
  • Carter center said she died this afternoon surrounded by her family
  • President Carter said: ‘As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me’

Rosalynn Carter has died at the age of 96, the Carter Center announced this afternoon.

The former First Lady and wife of Jimmy Carter passed away day two days after she entered hospice care and six months after she was diagnosed with dementia.

A veteran women’s rights campaigner, she was married to the President Carter for 77 years and died at 2.10pm with her family at her side at her home in Plains, Georgia.

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

‘Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,’ President Carter, 99, said this afternoon. 

‘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.’

Rosalynn Carter dies aged 96: Ex-First Lady and wife of Jimmy Carter passes away day two days after she enter hospice care and six months after dementia diagnosis

A decades-long love story: Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter in 1946. The pair were married for 77 years

Former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter walks with his wife, former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter towards their home following dinner at a friend’s home on Saturday August 04, 2018 in Plains

‘Besides being a loving mother and extraordinary First Lady, my mother was a great humanitarian in her own right,’ said he son Chip Carter. 

‘Her life of service and compassion was an example for all Americans. She will be sorely missed not only by our family but by the many people who have better mental health care and access to resources for caregiving today.’

She and President Carter, 99, were ‘spending time together,’ in their final days her family said. 

The president has been in hospice care at their home in Georgia for several months. 

They are the longest married couple in U.S. presidential history, meeting when Jimmy was just three years old and Rosalynn was a newborn. 

They celebrated their 77nd wedding anniversary on July 7, 2023. 

The couple first dated in 1945. A then 20-year-old Jimmy was attending the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and stole a kiss from Rosalynn on their first date. 

He later told his mother he wanted to marry her.

The couple had four children, 21 grandchildren and great grandchildren together 

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has entered into hospice care at her home. She and President Carter are shown in 2021 

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter looks on as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden leave the home of former President Jimmy Carter during a trip to mark Biden’s 100th day in office, Thursday, April 29, 2021,

Then-Georgia State Senator Jimmy Carter hugs his wife, Rosalynn, at his Atlanta campaign headquarters in this 1966 file photo

The Carters at the Democratic National Convention in New York City in July 1976

The then-president kisses his wife as he boards a helicopter for a trip from the White House to Camp David in May 1979

Rosalynn sat in on cabinet meetings and served as her husband’s personal envoy during his term as president between 1977 and 1981. 

‘Jimmy’s always talked things over with me, like when he was choosing the Vice President or the Cabinet,’ she said of her time in the White House.

‘I’ve always been involved in the meetings. I always tell him what I think even if I disagree — and I’ll continue to do that.’

Jimmy told People in 2015 that marrying her was the ‘best thing I ever did,’ describing their partnership as the ‘pinnacle’ of his life. 

Ahead of their 75th wedding anniversary in 2021 he said ‘My biggest secret is to marry the right person if you want to have a long-lasting marriage’. 

‘Every day there needs to be reconciliation and communication between the two spouses,’ he added, explaining that he and Rosalynn, both devout Christians, read the Bible together aloud each night – something they had done for years, even when separated by their travels.

‘We don’t go to sleep with some remaining differences between us.’

Rosalynn was diagnosed with dementia in May – three months after her husband entered hospice care at their Georgia home.

‘Mrs. Carter has been the nation’s leading mental health advocate for much of her life,’ the Carter Center said at the time. 

‘First in the Georgia Governor’s Mansion, then in the White House, and later at The Carter Center, she urged improved access to care and decreased stigma about issues surrounding mental health.

‘One in 10 older Americans have dementia, a condition that affects overall mental health. We recognize, as she did more than half a century ago, that stigma is often a barrier that keeps individuals and their families from seeking and getting much-needed support.

‘As the founder of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, Mrs. Carter often noted that there are only four kinds of people in this world: those who have been caregivers; those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.’

Senate leader Chuck Schumer was among the first to pay tribute on X, formerly Twitter, saying she ‘dedicated her life to serving others’. 

Jimmy and Rosalynn are seen above kissing during a reopening ceremony for the redesigned Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta in October 2009

‘Every day there needs to be reconciliation and communication between the two spouses,’ the former president said, explaining that he and Rosalynn, both devout Christians, read the Bible together aloud each night

The couple were pictured at the funeral of President George H.W. Bush in 2018

The couple lived in the home town where they were born and grew up. They are seen above in Plains, Georgia in February 2017

Rosalynn and her husband pictured together with a Boy Scout troop in November last year

The couple continued to enjoy life’s simple pleasures in 2018, including regular servings of his favorite ice cream according to Jason Carter, his grandson. 

‘America has lost a passionate humanitarian and champion for people all over the world,’ he added, ‘My heart goes out to her entire family.’ 

House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries said she was a ‘beloved First Lady and wonderful humanitarian, she led a life of service and compassion’.

Texas senator Ted Cruz said: ‘Rosalynn was known for her incredible generosity and kindness to everyone who crossed her path.’ 

The Carter Center, the nonprofit human rights organization the couple established in 1982, has set up an online condolence book and said a schedule of memorial events and funeral ceremonies will be published as soon as possible.

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