Rosalynn Carter, born on August 18, 1927, in Plains, Georgia, played a pivotal role as the American first lady from 1977 to 1981. Beyond her prominent position as the wife of Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, Rosalynn distinguished herself as one of the most politically astute and active first ladies in American history. This blog delves into the remarkable life of Rosalynn Carter, her early years, marriage to Jimmy Carter, and her groundbreaking contributions to mental health advocacy.
Rosalynn Carter Age, Net Worth, Health, Hospice, Education, Young, Biography Facts
|Date of Birth (DOB)
|August 18, 1927
|Place of Birth
|Plains, Georgia, U.S.
|Date of Passing
|November 19, 2023
|American First Lady, Mental Health Advocate
|Wilburn Edgar Smith (Father), Allie Murray Smith (Mother)
|Married Jimmy Carter on July 7, 1946
|Three sons (born in 1947, 1950, and 1952), one daughter (born in 1967)
|Involved in Jimmy Carter’s political campaigns; Active role as First Lady (1977–1981)
|Mental Health, Caregiving, Human Rights
|Co-founder of the Carter Center; Established the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving (1987)
|Presidential Medal of Freedom (1999)
|“First Lady from Plains” (1994), “Helping Someone with Mental Illness” (1998), “Within Our Reach: Ending the Mental Health Crisis” (2010)
Early Life and Marriage
Rosalynn, the eldest of four children born to Wilburn Edgar Smith and Allie Murray Smith, faced early challenges with the death of her father in 1940. This event marked the end of her childhood at the age of 13, thrusting her into additional responsibilities. Growing up in Plains, Georgia, Rosalynn met Jimmy Carter, the elder brother of her best friend, and they became engaged while he was a naval cadet. Their marriage on July 7, 1946, marked the beginning of a lifelong partnership.
As the couple navigated Jimmy’s naval career and raised four children, Rosalynn pursued her education through home study programs in literature and the arts. Her role expanded when, following the death of Jimmy’s father in 1953, she returned to Plains. Together, they managed the family peanut business, laying the foundation for a collaborative and empowering partnership.
Political Involvement and Mental Health Advocacy
Rosalynn’s political involvement grew as Jimmy entered the Georgia Senate in 1962 and later became governor in 1970. She campaigned independently, gaining confidence and addressing voters on issues that resonated with her. During this time, she developed a keen interest in mental health issues, a passion that would define her legacy.
The 1976 presidential campaign saw Rosalynn breaking new ground as she embarked on an 18-month solo campaign across the country, advocating for Jimmy. Her active role continued in the White House, where she participated in political affairs to an extent unparalleled by her predecessors. Despite some criticism, Rosalynn’s commitment to mental health advocacy remained steadfast.
Mental Health Commission and Beyond
While serving as the honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health, Rosalynn took an active role in its work, leading to the submission of the Mental Health Systems Bill to Congress in 1979. Her testimony before a Senate subcommittee in 1980 marked a significant moment, making her the first presidential wife to appear in such a capacity since Eleanor Roosevelt in 1945.
Post-White House Years
After Jimmy Carter’s loss to Ronald Reagan in 1980, Rosalynn redirected her energy to causes close to her heart. She continued her efforts to improve mental health care and became involved with Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization aiding individuals in building their own homes. In 1982, she and Jimmy Carter founded the Carter Center, a nonprofit human rights organization.
Rosalynn’s commitment extended to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, established in 1987. She authored several books, including “First Lady from Plains,” offering unique insights into her husband’s administration, and “Helping Someone with Mental Illness,” a compassionate guide co-written with Susan K. Golant.
Legacy and Recognition
Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter’s contributions were acknowledged with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1999, the highest civilian honor in the United States. Throughout her life, Rosalynn Carter’s popularity remained consistently high, drawing comparisons to the impactful role played by Eleanor Roosevelt.
Rosalynn Carter’s journey from Plains, Georgia, to the White House and beyond exemplifies resilience, compassion, and a tireless dedication to improving the lives of others. As a trailblazing first lady and a mental health advocate, her legacy endures, leaving an indelible mark on American history.
Who is Rosalynn Carter?
Rosalynn Carter, born on August 18, 1927, in Plains, Georgia, was the American First Lady from 1977 to 1981 and a prominent mental health advocate. She played a crucial role in the political career of her husband, Jimmy Carter, the 39th President of the United States.
What was Rosalynn Carter’s early life like?
Rosalynn grew up in Plains, Georgia, and met Jimmy Carter, her future husband, while attending public schools. Her father’s death at the age of 13 marked a turning point, and she later became a driving force behind the family’s peanut business.
How did Rosalynn contribute to Jimmy Carter’s political career?
Rosalynn actively campaigned alongside Jimmy during his political career, showcasing her political acumen. As First Lady, she broke new ground by participating in political affairs and engaging in solo campaigns across the country.
What were Rosalynn Carter’s advocacy focuses?
Rosalynn was a dedicated mental health advocate. She served as the honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health, leading to the submission of the Mental Health Systems Bill to Congress in 1979. Post-White House, she continued her efforts, co-founding the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving.
What notable achievements did Rosalynn Carter attain post-White House?
After leaving the White House, Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter co-founded the Carter Center, a nonprofit human rights organization. She also played a crucial role in establishing the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving in 1987.