Facts about Rosalynn Carter

Rosalynn Carter died at 96 years old
Born: August 18, 1927
Best known as: First Lady of the United States, 1977-81

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Rosalynn Carter Biography

Name at birth: Eleanor Rosalynn Smith

Rosalynn Carter was the wife of United States president Jimmy Carter, who served from 1977 to 1981.

Rosalynn Smith grew up in Jimmy Carter’s hometown of Plains, Georgia; she was delivered by Jimmy’s mother, Lillian Carter, who was a nurse. Rosalynn was three years younger than Carter, and they didn’t date until 1945, when he was home on a visit from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. They married in 1946, after Rosalynn graduated from Georgia Southwestern College (now Georgia Southwestern State University).

After seven years as a military wife, Rosalynn returned to Plains when Jimmy took over the Carter family business. From 1962 on she was a political wife, including a stint as First Lady of Georgia during Jimmy’s tenure as governor (1971-1975). When Carter made his successful run for president in 1976, Rosalynn campaigned across the country on her own and earned a reputation as a well-spoken and informed partner.

As First Lady she was best known for her work improving services for the mentally ill, and as President Carter’s emissary abroad, especially in Latin America. After leaving the White House she worked with her husband in running the Carter Center and continued her commitment to caring and advocating for those suffering from mental illness. She and her husband were prominent advocates for the nonprofit group Habitats for Humanity, and were often seen building houses with the group; at her death, The New York Times reported that they had worked “on more than 4,000 homes in more than a dozen countries.”

In May of 2023, her family announced that Rosalynn Carter was suffering from dementia. At the same time, her husband was entered into a home hospice program for his own illnesses. Rosalynn Carter died later that year at her home in Plains.


Extra credit

The Carters had four children: John (b. 1947, known as Jack), James (b. 1950, known as Chip), Donnel (b. 1952, known as Jeff), and Amy (b. 1967); Rosalynn was 19 when Jack was born, and 40 when Amy was born.


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