Rosalynn Carter cause of death: How did the former US first lady die?

Rosalynn Carter
US ex-President Jimmy Carter's wife Rosalynn dies aged 96

Rosalynn Carter, the wife of former US president Jimmy Carter, has died aged 96.

The Carter Centre said she died on Sunday after living with dementia and suffering many months of declining health.

A spokesperson said she “died peacefully, with family by her side” at 2.10pm local time at her rural Georgia home.

Rosalynn Carter
Former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter, the wife of ex-President Jimmy Carter, has died at the age of 96.

Who was Rosalynn Carter?

Eleanor Rosalynn Carter was an American writer and activist who served as the first lady of the United States from 1977 to 1981, as the wife of President Jimmy Carter.

She was Jimmy’s closest advisor during the presidency. She also supported many social causes over the years, mostly during her stay in the White House.

Most of all, she has been concerned towards the mental health area and worked extensively to diminish the stigma attached to the psychological disorders such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.

Born and brought up in Georgia, Rosalynn had to drop out of the college midway due to financial difficulties.

She met Jimmy Carter through a common friend and got married to him in 1946 when she was 18 years old.

Throughout the 60’s and the 70’s, she worked to support the political career of Jimmy.

Other than being the Active Honorary Chairman of President’s Commission on mental health, she had advocated women rights.

In 1984, she released her autobiography titled ‘First Lady from Plains.

She has been active in the social activism till now and is remembered as one of the most generous, strong-willed and socially and politically active first ladies in the American history.

Rosalynn Carte

Childhood & Early Life

Rosalynn Carter was born as Eleanor Rosalynn Smith in Plains, Georgia on 18th August 1927 to a lower middle class family.

She was the eldest of four children born to Wilburn Edgar Smith and his wife Allie Murray Smith.

Wilburn worked as a farmer and a mechanic and hardly made enough money to make the family go on without hassles.

Rosalynn grew in poverty but she says that their parents were kind and didn’t let their children know what being poor was.

They belonged to a relatively poor locality where each one of the neighbouring families struggled to make the ends meet.

Rosalynn played with boys from her neighbourhood as there was no girl of her age around. That could be one reason why she turned out to be a strong willed woman.

When she was 13 years old, her father died and the family became highly dependent on the mother and the eldest sister Rosalynn.

She was good in academics but post her father’s death she started working with her mother to get going. She learned hairdressing and worked as a hairdresser for many years.

She attended Plains High School and studied very hard to fulfil her demised father’s wishes of seeing Rosalynn attending college.

Since her childhood years, she was highly interested in structures she saw around her, which led her to believe that maybe she would have a bright future in architecture.

Once she was out of high school, she enrolled into Georgia Southwestern College. But due to the lacklustre financial conditions of the family, she had to drop out midway.

She had already met and started dating Jimmy Carter before she went to college, who was attending the Annapolis Naval Academy at that time.

In December 1945, Jimmy proposed her for marriage but she denied thinking she was too young for a serious commitment.

However, she didn’t refuse when Jimmy proposed her second time just a couple of months later.

And thus began Rosalynn’s journey towards becoming the strong support system of an enigmatic politician Jimmy Carter.

Rosalynn Carter

Rosalynn Carter cause of death

In April 1977, Carter underwent surgery to remove a nonmalignant breast tumor.

She underwent a gynecological procedure at Bethesda Naval Hospital in August 1977, which her press secretary Mary Hoyt described as a routine private matter.

In May 2023, the Carter Center announced that Carter had been diagnosed with dementia.

The statement also noted that she continued to live at home with her husband – who was in hospice care at the time of the announcement – “enjoying spring and visits with loved ones”.

On November 17, 2023, Carter entered hospice care. She died two days later at her home in Plains, Georgia, of natural causes, at the age of 96.


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