Eleanor Rosalynn Carter was an influential figure who forged her legacy as a champion of mental health and a humanitarian, leaving an enduring impact on America.
Serving as the First Lady from 1977 to 1981, Carter adeptly managed East Wing duties, participated in crucial meetings, and stood in for President Jimmy Carter at various events.
However, her primary dedication remained towards the performing arts, as evidenced by her role as the Honorary Chairperson of the President’s Commission on Mental Health from 1977 to 1978. In this role, she not only hosted global artists but also advocated passionately for mental health, community, and elderly programs. Additionally, she assumed the position of vice chair at the Carter Center in Atlanta, which was established in 1982 to champion peace and human rights on a global scale.
On Sunday, Nov. 19, the passing of the Steel Magnolia quickly sparked an overwhelming wave of support for the Carter family.
From coast to coast, figures such as Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi of California and New York Governor Kathy Hochul shared their condolences and reminisced about Carter's impact.
“Today, our nation mourns the loss of First Lady Rosalynn Carter, a saintly and revered public servant. A leader deeply driven by her profound faith, compassion, and kindness, First Lady Carter achieved transformational change that has brought hope and healing to countless families across America and all around the world,” said Pelosi in a statement.
While Hochul said Carter “lived a life of service to her community and to our nation, New York joins the Carter family in mourning her loss.”
In her home of Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp said that as a proud Georgian native, Carter left a lasting mark on both our state and nation during her tenure as First Lady.
"Working alongside her husband, she championed mental health services and promoted the state she loved across the globe. 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," Kemp said.
The oldest sitting member in the Senate, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, took to X to share his condolences.
"Sad news w the passing of First Lady Rosalynn Carter She was an accomplished leader for mental health advocacy & habitat for humanity & so many more worthy causes Her devotion to her husband Pres Jimmy Carter of 77yrs is unmatched God bless the Carter family," the post read.
Former first ladies also spared a moment to acknowledge the significant impact and exemplary influence that Carter had on them.
"Rosalynn Carter leaves behind a meaningful legacy not only as First Lady but as a wife and mother. We will always remember her servant’s heart and devotion to her husband, family, and country. May she rest in peace," said Melania Trump.
Michelle Obama took to X to share that there's no official handbook or rules for being First Lady, and that technically, it's not even an official position, but the role is largely shaped by the passions and aspirations of those who come beforehand.
"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. We send our thoughts and prayers to Jimmy and the entire Carter family during this difficult time," said Obama.
During a "Friendsgiving" event with troops and their families in Virginia, First Lady Jill Biden expresses condolences over Carter's passing.
"She was well known for her efforts on mental health, caregiving and women’s rights. So, I hope that during the holidays, you’ll include the Carter family in your prayers," Biden said.
While memorial events and funeral details have not been announced yet, the Carter family suggests contributions to the Carter Center's Mental Health Program or the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers instead of flowers.
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