Add another “first” to Rosalynn Carter’s one-of-a-kind bio:
First lady of Georgia came, uh, first -- from 1971 to 1975. That was followed by her four years as first lady of the United States, when she held hearings around the country and testified before Congress along the way to spearheading passage of the gamechanging Mental Health Systems Act of 1980.
And Friday marks her first day as a 90-year-old!
Born Eleanor Rosalynn Smith on Aug. 18, 1927, one of the first people she “met” was her future husband. Jimmy Carter’s family lived next door to the Smiths in Plains at the time and his mother was a nurse who helped deliver her; a few days later, “Miss Lillian” brought her toddler son over for a look at the new baby.
In an exclusive interview with the AJC earlier this month, Rosalynn Carter reflected on her “great life” and recalled the first birthday she spent in the White House.
“I turned 50, and I thought that was really bad,” she said with a soft chuckle in her office at The Carter Center in Atlanta. If she could go back in time now and talk to that younger version of herself, she said, she’d be able to reassure her: “You can have a full life after 50.”
Here’s how you can wish Rosalynn Carter a happy 90th:
Stop by the lobby of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta to sign a giant birthday card for the former first lady. It’s located at 441 Freedom Pkwy NE.
Check out this terrific slideshow of her life currently featured on The Carter Center’s web site. While there, you can also read about the onetime smalltown girl from Plains’s decades of work fighting disease, advocating for human rights and improved mental health care and other important causes in the U.S. and around the world.
Finally, for more on Rosalynn Carter’s thoughts on turning 90, the accomplishments she’s most proud of and what still remains to be done -- and what her husband of 71 years gave her as an early birthday present -- go here to read the entire interview.