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Former U.S. First Lady Rosalynn Carter, advocate for mental health and humanitarian causes, dies at 96

Former U.S. First Lady Rosalynn Carter, revered for her tireless advocacy in mental health causes, passed away at the age of 96 at her home in Plains, Georgia. President Jimmy Carter, who referred to her as “an extension of myself,” announced her death, stating that she passed away surrounded by her family after entering hospice care.

Jimmy Carter, who served as president from 1977 to 1981, highlighted their enduring partnership, stating, “Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished. 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.”

An unassuming figure before Washington, Rosalynn Carter evolved into a strong advocate, particularly in mental health issues. Her efforts extended far beyond the White House years, championing the cause not due to personal connection but due to her unwavering belief in the necessity of advocacy.

Reflecting on their partnership, Jimmy Carter emphasised, “The best thing I ever did was marry Rosalynn. That’s the pinnacle of my life.”


Before their tenure in Washington, Rosalynn Carter was mostly unknown outside of Georgia. However, she became an essential figure during Jimmy Carter’s presidency, involved in the Carter Centre and Habitat for Humanity charity.

Her passion for mental health stemmed from her early experiences campaigning for her husband’s governorship in Georgia, where she recognised the depth of mental health issues in the state and the hesitancy in discussing them. As the first lady of Georgia, she worked on improving services for the mentally ill and continued this advocacy in the White House, playing a key role in the passage of mental health funding legislation.

Even after leaving Washington, she continued her work through the Carter Centre, focusing on mental health, conflict resolution, human rights, and community empowerment.

Both Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were active in humanitarian efforts, particularly with Habitat for Humanity, where they contributed to building homes for needy families. Their dedication to humanitarian causes was recognised when Jimmy Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.


Rosalynn Carter’s legacy extends beyond her role as first lady; she leaves behind a legacy of advocacy and humanitarianism, survived by her four children, 11 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren.

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