Rosalynn Carter: Tributes pour in after death of former first lady

The former first lady was married to Jimmy Carter for 77 years.

Tributes poured in Sunday for former first lady Rosalynn Carter, who died Sunday at the age of 96.

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In late May, the Carter Center, the couple’s human rights group, announced that she had been diagnosed with dementia. She entered hospice care on Friday.

Bess Truman, the wife of President Harry Truman, is the only first lady to have outlived Rosalynn Carter, according to the National First Ladies Library. She died in 1982 at the age of 97.

In July 2023, the Carters celebrated their 77th wedding anniversary. They were the longest-married presidential couple in U.S. history. In 1999, then-President Bill Clinton presented the couple with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor.

The current first lady, Jill Biden, spoke about her predecessor at a holiday event at Naval Station Norfolk on Sunday, CNN reported.

“The former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has just passed,” Biden said. “And she was well known for her efforts on mental health and caregiving and women’s rights.

“And so I hope that during the holidays you’ll … include the Carter family in your prayers.”

Several hours later, President Joe Biden told reporters that the Carters were “an incredible family” because “they brought so much grace” to the office.

Former President George W. Bush called Carter a woman of dignity and strength.

“There was no greater advocate of President Carter, and their partnership set a wonderful example of loyalty and fidelity,” Bush and former first lady Laura Bush said in a statement. “She leaves behind an important legacy in her work to destigmatize mental health. We join our fellow citizens in sending our condolences to President Carter and their family.”

Former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- who is also a former first lady -- honored Rosalyn Carter in a joint statement for her work spreading “hope, health and democracy across the globe.”

“Rosalynn Carter was a compassionate and committed champion of human dignity everywhere,” the Clintons wrote. “Rosalynn will be forever remembered as the embodiment of a life lived with purpose.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that Rosalynn Carter “dedicated her life to serving others.”

“America has lost a passionate humanitarian and champion for people all over the world,” Schumer, D-N.Y., wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Former First Lady Melania Trump said that Carter leaves behind a meaningful legacy, according to The Associated Press.

“We will always remember her servant’s heart and devotion to her husband, family, and country. May she rest in peace,” Trump tweeted.

Former President Donald Trump also paid tribute to Carter on his Truth Social media platform.

“Melania and I join all Americans in mourning the loss of Rosalynn Carter,” Trump wrote. “She was a devoted First Lady, a great humanitarian, a champion for mental health, and a beloved wife to her husband for 77 years, President Carter.”

Journalist Maria Shriver said that she long “admired Rosalynn’s work in mental health and caregiving.”

“Let’s hold Rosalynn and the entire Carter family in our hearts, and hope that her mission of supporting caregivers and raising awareness of the mental health issues involved continue to grow,” Shriver wrote on Instagram.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted that Rosalynn Carter “lived a life of service to her community and to our nation.”

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said that for “all her life,” Rosalynn Carter “dedicated herself to serving others.”

Wanda Sykes said that Rosalynn Carter “brought compassion and advocacy to the forefront.

“A true inspiration and a woman of substance,” Sykes tweeted.

Actress Lynda Carter said that the former first lady handled the post “with strength and grace.”

“She showed us what it meant to be a champion of the American people and a public servant long beyond the call of duty,” the “Wonder Woman” star tweeted.

Habitat for Humanity, the group that Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter worked with for decades, called the late first lady “a compassionate and committed champion” for the organization.

“She worked fiercely to help families around the world,” the organization tweeted.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder tweeted that Rosalynn Carter was “a great partner to a consequential President and helped define the modern role” of the first lady.

“She was gracious, warm -- and determined,” Holder wrote.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp emphasized Rosalynn Carter’s ‘indelible impact’ on Georgia and the nation.

“Her achievements will stand the test of time and continue to be celebrated by those who knew her best.”

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens called Carter “the model for the modern day First Lady.”

“She never stopped advocating for mental health or the Equal Rights Amendment,” Dickens said in a statement. “The city of Atlanta joins all of Georgia — and mourners around the world — as we honor the memory of First Lady Rosalynn Carter.”

Actress Mia Farrow tweeted simply, “Thank you!!”

While Jimmy Carter stayed above the fray of partisan politics, Rosalynn was not shy about stumping for her husband, earning the nickname “Steel Magnolia,” The Washington Post reported.

“I’ve always said I’m more political than Jimmy,” she once said. “I’m political, he’s not.”

“She is clearly the most political first lady, maybe in history, in terms of being involved in politics and in the campaign,” Patrick Caddell, Jimmy Carter’s pollster, told The New York Times during the 1980 presidential campaign.

“At the beginning, she was imprisoned by her shyness,” E. Stanly Godbold Jr., a Carter biographer, told the newspaper. “Once she started breaking out of her shell, she piggybacked her career onto her husband’s. Then she had a foot in both worlds, the liberated career woman as well as the supportive spouse.”

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