U.S., Georgia leaders offer condolences after passing of Rosalynn Carter

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter arrives with her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, left, for an annual Carter Town Hall held at Emory University, Sept. 18, 2019, in Atlanta. Rosalynn Carter died Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. She was 96. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)

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Former first lady Rosalynn Carter arrives with her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, left, for an annual Carter Town Hall held at Emory University, Sept. 18, 2019, in Atlanta. Rosalynn Carter died Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. She was 96. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)

Credit: AP

Prominent voices from Georgia and across the United States are offering their condolences Sunday following the death of former first lady Rosalynn Carter.

Carter died peacefully around 2:10 p.m. at her home in Plains, Georgia, with her family at her side, the Atlanta-based Carter Center said. She was 96.

“More than 96 years ago a First Lady was born years ahead of her time who urged us to take our mental health seriously. She was Rosalynn Carter, and sadly she has passed away,” Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens wrote in a statement. “Mrs. Carter worked side by side with her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, to make life better for people around the world. She never stopped advocating for mental health or the Equal Rights Amendment. She was an activist, author and humanitarian, travelled internationally as her husband’s envoy and was the model for the modern day First Lady. The city of Atlanta joins all of Georgia—and mourners around the world—as we honor the memory of First Lady Rosalynn Carter.”

On Friday, it was announced that Carter had entered hospice home care about nine months after former president Jimmy Carter, her husband of 77 years. The couple lived in the same ranch house in Plains since 1961, outside his presidential and governor years.

Gov. Brian Kemp said that Rosalynn Carter, a proud native Georgian, had an “indelible impact” on both the state and the country.

“Working alongside her husband, she championed mental health services and promoted the state she loved across the globe,” Kemp stated. “Their marriage, spanning 77 years, stands as a testament to their enduring partnership. Like that marriage, her achievements will stand the test of time and continue to be celebrated by those who knew her best. President Carter and his family are in our prayers as the world reflects on First Lady Carter’s storied life and the nation mourns her passing.”

Rosalynn Carter is survived by her children, 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Early last month, Jimmy Carter’s niece Kim Fuller said at least one of his children was always present with them at home. The children usually took turns staying there.

“I extend my deepest condolences to President Carter, Jack, Chip, Jeff, Amy, and the entire Carter family on their loss,” Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff wrote in a statement. “A former First Lady of Georgia and the United States, Rosalynn’s lifetime of work and her dedication for public service changed the lives of many. Among her many accomplishments, Rosalynn Carter will be remembered for her compassionate nature and her passion for women’s rights, human rights, and mental health reform. The State of Georgia and the United States are better places because of Rosalynn Carter. I join all Georgians and Americans in mourning her loss. May Rosalynn Carter’s memory be a blessing.”

On Sunday night, President Joe Biden spoke to the media about the Carters as he was boarding Air Force One. He said a family spokesperson told him the entire family, including their children and grandchildren are now with Jimmy Carter.

“They’re really an incredible family because they brought so much grace to the office,” Biden said. “He did the same thing for people after he was President when he was retired — not for money, for just help.”

“I was the first person to endorse him as a U.S. senator when he ran. But he had this great integrity, he still does, and she did too,” he added.

“We share this with a heavy heart and send our condolences to President Carter and the entire Carter family!” added the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library on X, formally known as Twitter.

Bernice A. King, the daughter of the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, posted a picture alongside Carter, writing how Sunday was for mourning the “loss of a remarkable woman and dear friend of the King family and The King Center.”

“Her commitment to peace and tireless efforts, alongside her husband, former President #JimmyCarter, to make a positive impact on our nation and world will be remembered. Our hearts are with President Carter and the Carter family during this difficult time,” she added.

Former Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms stated that Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter “have always exemplified the very best of who we are as Georgians and that “we are grateful for their example.”

During her time in the White House, former first lady Michelle Obama said Rosalynn Carter would occasionally join her for lunch, offer advice, and lend a helping hand.

“Today, Barack and I join the world in celebrating the remarkable legacy of a First Lady, philanthropist, and advocate who dedicated her life to lifting up others,” she wrote. “Her life is a reminder that no matter who we are, our legacies are best measured not in awards or accolades, but in the lives we touch.”

In a statement, Bill and Hillary Clinton said Carter will always be remembered as the “embodiment of a life lived with purpose.”

“(We) are deeply grateful for her extraordinary service to our nation and world, and for more than forty years of friendship,” they wrote.

“Tricia and I lift President Carter and his family up in prayer as we mourn the loss of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter,” added Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “Her impact on our state and nation will last for generations to come. Let’s all take a moment to reflect on her life as we mourn her passing.”

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi highlighted Carter’s faith and kindness and how the former first lady “brought hope and healing to countless families across America and all around the world. Pelosi cited her work to improve mental health and diplomatic mission to Latin America in 1977 that “ushered in a new era of engagement in the region.”

“Two years later, she became the first sitting First Lady to address the World Health Organization, where she argued that mental health was an aspect of physical health – and that health is a human right,” Pelosi wrote. “After leaving the White House, she remained an active and unwavering force for good. Together, through their Carter Center and involvement in Habitat for Humanity, President and First Lady Carter have offered a beacon of light to every corner of the world. Their beautiful love and partnership was truly a wonder for all to behold.”

She said the “entire nation” was in mourning on Sunday.

Both the Georgia Republican Party and Democratic Party of Georgia shared their condolences on social media.

Carter’s reach also extended into the sports world. On Sunday, the Atlanta Braves expressed their sadness and posted a picture of her Sunday wearing the team’s baseball cap.

Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden later released a statement that evening, writing how Carter “walked her own path, inspiring a nation and the world along the way.”

“Time and time again, during the more than four decades of our friendship – through rigors of campaigns, through the darkness of deep and profound loss – we always felt the hope, warmth, and optimism of Rosalynn Carter. She will always be in our hearts,” they wrote.

— AJC Washington correspondent Tia Mitchell contributed to this report

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