Rosalynn Carter

Lived:August 18, 1927—November 19, 2023 (aged 96)
Career:First lady of the United States, 1977-1981
First lady of Georgia, 1971-1975

Eleanor Rosalynn Smith Carter was the first lady of the United States from 1977-1981, the wife of the 39th president of the United States, Jimmy Carter.

Carter was born in Plains, Georgia, on August 18, 1927. She married James Earl Carter on July 7, 1946. After the death of his father in 1953, the Carters returned to Plains to run the family's peanut farm, with Mrs. Carter managing the finances. She helped with Mr. Carter's unsuccessful campaigns for state senate in 1962 and the governor's office in 1966 and his successful run for governor in 1970.

As first lady of Georgia, Carter's primary focus was an overhaul of the state's mental health system. She also served as honorary chairperson of the Georgia Special Olympics from 1971-1975 and volunteered at an Atlanta hospital.

Carter was an active participant in her husband's 1976 and 1980 presidential campaigns. As first lady of the United States, Carter was open about her influence in the president's decision-making, meeting weekly with him to discuss policy. She attended Cabinet meetings and worked directly with Cabinet members. She played an active role in several policy issues, including serving as active honorary chair of the President's Commission on Mental Health, which lead to significant reform in federal mental health legislation.

After leaving the White House, the Carters founded the Carter Center, a private, not-for-profit institution based in Atlanta, Georgia, where she served on the Board of Trustees. Over the years, she continued her advocacy for mental health issues and in 1987 founded the Institute for Caregivers. The Carters both received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999.

Carter passed away on Nov. 19, 2023, the second-longest lived first lady after Bess Truman, who died at 97.

Image from


National First Ladies Library. (n.d.). First Lady Biography: Rosalynn Carter. Retrieved on July 22, 2020, from

The White House. (n.d.). Rosalynn Smith Carter. Retrieved on July 22, 2020, from