Tributes for Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter include several from currently serving Georgia WIN List endorsed legislators who have known her for decades and interacted with her over the years as they worked together as advocates for Mental Health and other projects championed by the Carters.
Senate Minority Leader Gloria Butler
“Rosalynn Carter was the embodiment of public service. She gave voice and action to policy and programs that impacted the lives of everyday people. Her humility of service should be a guiding light for all of us. My prayers are with President Carter and the entire Carter family. I pray that we will all hold a piece of Rosalynn in our hearts.”
SD 12 Senator Freddie Powell Sims
“Graceful, energetic, smart, decisive, supportive, persistent; just a tiny characterization of Rosalynn Carter as the role of First Lady of Georgia and First Lady of the United States of America.
“Mrs Carter was a devoted public servant, who loved her country and her community, a love that was especially illuminated through countless hours of manual work through Habitat for Humanity and fundraising efforts for the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs. Mrs. Carter’s love for God, Family, and Country was on full display each time you met her.
“No doubt, Mrs. Carter was unaware of her female role-model status, especially for those of us who grew up in rural America with few resources to evolve like our metropolitan counterparts. But her dedication to various public causes including healthcare and increased mental health services, was a real blessing to rural Georgia.
“As we watched her impressive work on many fronts, we knew that her legacy was the standard for all women in public service. Thank you Rosalynn!”
The district Sen. Powell represents includes Plains, the hometown of President and Mrs. Carter.
HD 82 Representative Mary Margaret Oliver
“I first met the Governor Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter when I was in law school. And, just a few months ago, I was part of a program at the Carter center to honor her legacy for mental health.
“She never stepped away from her commitment to mental health reform and her often repeated message that stigma was the biggest barrier to helping people get well. I was with her many times and always admired how gracious she was, and how committed she was to every cause she addressed.
“Mrs. Carter loved her family and loved her state. She was made history with her partnership to the president of United States. We native Georgians have known her very long time and mourn her passing.”
Rep. Oliver was a primary co-sponsor of the Mental Health Parity Act which passed in 2022 and follow-up legislation now pending to finsh the overhaul of Georgia’s Mental Health system.
HD 137 Representative Debbie Buckner
“Rosalynn Carter’s welcoming manner, wisdom, and wit made it a gift to be with her.
My heartfelt sympathy is extended to President Carter, the entire family and hosts of friends. She was so intelligent, caring, insightful, witty, and interested in so many topics. She was just a beautiful person inside and out!”
Rep. Buckner recalls with great fondness a dinner she and her family shared with President and Mrs. Carter in 2015. She also sat with the Carters in 2006 when President and Mrs. Carter joined a crowd which braved a strong thunderstorm to welcome home the Columbus team which had won that year’s softball world series.
HD 35 Representative Lisa Campbell
“Rosalynn Carter has been a special inspiration to me and to so many around the world, especially women. She was a gracious leader, determined to do everything she could to give voice to women, children, the elderly and those in need.
“Rosalynn’s deep commitment to mental health changed the world’s views about mental illness, paving the way for expanded care and parity. She taught us how to help ourselves help others and uplifted the value of caregiving.
“She was independent minded, a stalwart champion for women’s rights and a passionate advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment. Together, with President Jimmy Carter, her equal partner in love and life, they gave generously with creativity and love, making the most of the opportunities they had to expand human rights.
“Rosalynn Carter and the family she nurtured, will forever be our role models for caring and through her example, we will continue to find strength and encouragement to give life our best.
During her long public relations career, Rep. Campbell was part of a team promoting early The Carter Center efforts.
Rosalynn Carter Obituaries Praise Life Well Lived
Tributes and obituaries from around the world praised a life well lived as they recounted the tireless public service of Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, who had been married to former President Jimmy Carter for the past 77 years.
We have taken the liberty of collecting some of the most well-researched tributes and provide excerpts and links below for you to read during the coming days.
An Extraordinary Life – The Atlanta Journal and Constitution
“Oh, they all really came to see him,” she said quietly, watching her husband of then-69 years exchange hugs and hearty handshakes with most of the 100 guests. “But I’ll take it.”
That wise sense of perspective was as extraordinary as the life she lived. Even before Jimmy Carter was elected president in 1976 and the new first lady started showing up at Presidential Cabinet meetings, she had become the essential, if lower-profile “other half” of nearly everything he did.
Rosalynn Carter also blazed her own trail. She used her prominent perch as the wife of a governor and president to talk about vital issues which others wouldn’t, most notably mental illness and equality for women. And she kept talking about them, even as she passed 90 and new controversies erupted around “old” causes she’d championed like the importance of immunization and vaccinations.
In awarding both Carters the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999, Bill Clinton lauded their accomplishments together — but also took pains to highlight her singular impact.
“Just as Eleanor Roosevelt will be remembered for her work on human rights, Rosalynn Carter will always be remembered as a pioneer on mental health and a champion of our children,” Clinton said.
… “The best thing I ever did was marry Rosalynn,” Carter had reflected during a press event a few years earlier. “That’s the pinnacle of my life.”
Created the Modern Office of the First Lady – Washington Post
“Rosalynn Carter… created the modern Office of the First Lady and advocated for better treatment of the mentally ill during her years in the White House and for four decades afterward…
During her husband’s 1976 presidential campaign, Mrs. Carter acquired the label “steel magnolia,” a reference to her soft-spoken Southern demeanor that disguised an ambitious and resolute nature.
Determined not to be relegated to a ceremonial role, she worked in the tradition of former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt to make herself an extension of the president and his policies. She was the first First Lady to maintain an office in the East Wing of the White House and only the second, after Roosevelt, to testify in Congress.
First Lady and Political Partner – The New York Times
Rosalynn Carter, a true life partner to Jimmy Carter who helped propel him from rural Georgia to the White House in a single decade and became the most politically active first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt, died on Sunday in Plains, Ga. She was 96.
Over their nearly eight decades together, Mr. and Mrs. Carter forged the closest of bonds, developing a personal and professional symbiosis remarkable for its sheer longevity.
Their extraordinary union began formally with their marriage in 1946, but, in a manner of speaking, it began long before that, with a touch of kismet, just after Rosalynn (pronounced ROSE-a-lynn) was born in Plains in 1927.
She had been delivered by Mr. Carter’s mother, a nurse. And a few days later, in a scene that might have been concocted by Hollywood, his mother took little Jimmy to Rosalynn’s house, where he “peeked into the cradle to see the newest baby on the street,” as he recalled in his 2015 memoir, “A Full Life, Reflections at Ninety.”
After Mr. Carter lost his re-election bid in 1980 to Ronald Reagan, he and Mrs. Carter embarked on what became the longest, most active post-presidency in American history. They traveled the world in support of human rights, democracy and health programs; domestically, they labored in service to others, most prominently pounding nails to help build houses for Habitat for Humanity.
In the continuum of first ladies after Mrs. Roosevelt, Mrs. Carter broke the mold. Like most of the others, she championed a cause — hers was the treatment of mental illness. But she also immersed herself in the business of the nation and kept a sharp eye on politics, a realm her husband famously claimed to ignore.
She frequently attended Mr. Carter’s cabinet meetings and traveled abroad to meet with heads of state in visits labeled substantive, not ceremonial. She often sat in on the daily National Security Council briefings held for the president and senior staff.
An Equal Partner in Everything – Georgia Public Broadcasting
“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” President Carter said in the statement. “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.”
“Besides being a loving mother and extraordinary First Lady, my mother was a great humanitarian in her own right,” said Chip Carter. “Her life of service and compassion was an example for all Americans. She will be sorely missed not only by our family but by the many people who have better mental health care and access to resources for caregiving today.”
“She was seen as Jimmy Carter’s secret weapon,” journalist Jonathan Alter said. “Rosalynn Carter allowed her husband to essentially be in two places at the same time, could campaign in two places at the same time. That’s a huge asset in politics.”
“In recognition of her tireless fight for mental health and unwavering dedication to improving the lives of others, Rosalynn Carter was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2001, becoming only the third first lady ever inducted, joining Abigail Adams and Eleanor Roosevelt.”