She was a benefactor and gave a voice to people who are often not heard: Now the former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter is dead. The 96-year-old wife of former President Jimmy Carter was in her hometown of Plains in the US state of Georgia in the afternoon Died “peacefully surrounded by family,” said a foundation set up by the Carters.

99-year-old Jimmy Carter paid tribute to his wife with moving words. “Rosalynn has been my equal partner in everything I have ever accomplished,” the foundation quoted him as saying. “As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew that someone loved and supported me.”

Rosalynn Carter’s health had rapidly deteriorated in recent months. In May it became public that she was suffering from dementia. The Carter Foundation announced just last Friday that the 96-year-old was receiving palliative care at home. Jimmy Carter has also been receiving palliative care at home with his family since mid-February. He has been struggling with health problems for several years and is no longer taking any further medical steps after a series of hospitalizations.

Carter wrote several books

Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter married in 1946 – the couple has four children and eleven grandchildren. The former first lady campaigned for social issues throughout her life and wrote several books. She is said to have had significant influence on policy in the White House during her husband’s presidency. The Democratic politician from the state of Georgia in the southern United States was US President from 1977 to 1981, until he was replaced by the Republican Ronald Reagan. He is the oldest living former US president.

Rosalynn Carter was born Eleanor Rosalynn Smith in 1927 in Plains, a small rural town in Georgia. Similar to Jimmy Carter, she comes from humble beginnings. Her father died of cancer when she was a child, and her mother supported the family as a seamstress. In 1945 she met her future husband Jimmy Carter – and the two married soon after. Rosalynn Carter later worked in the Carters’ peanut operation. When Jimmy Carter began his political career, she supported him. “Campaigning was fun. I got to travel and see the whole country,” she once said.

“Known for her political acumen”

The couple was initially viewed with skepticism in the US capital Washington because of their relatively simple roots in the country. According to observers, Rosalynn Carter has significantly shaped the role of First Lady in the USA. She accompanied her husband on many international trips and was also present at important appointments with the then president. “She was widely known for her political acumen and was particularly praised for her electoral sensitivity, down-to-earth nature and her work for the White House, including as envoy to Latin America,” wrote the US broadcaster CBS about the former first lady .

Later she became particularly involved in the area of ​​mental health and made the topic a matter close to her heart. She is considered a pioneer in the fight for better treatment. She also tried to reduce the stigmatization of people with mental illnesses. “She will be sorely missed not only by our family, but also by the many people who today have better mental health care and access to care resources,” said her son Chip in response to his mother’s death.

Together with her husband, she founded the Carter Center in 1982, a foundation that works worldwide to promote democracy, human rights and economic development, particularly in poorer countries. In 1999, Rosalynn Carter received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the highest civilian honors.

Biden pays tribute to late Carter

US President Joe Biden and his wife Jill praised Carter as a woman who went her own way and inspired an entire nation and the world. Former US President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary, once US Secretary of State, called Rosalynn Carter a “steadfast voice for the overlooked and underrepresented.” She will “forever be remembered as the embodiment of a meaningful life.” Former first lady Michelle Obama wrote: “When our family lived in the White House, Rosalynn would come to lunch every now and then, give me a few words of advice and always – always – give me a helping hand.”

The Carters were married for 77 years and were considered a close couple who loved each other deeply. In September, the two surprised everyone with a public appearance at a peanut parade in Plains. The couple appeared – marked by illness – in a dark limousine that drove through the small town. When Jimmy Carter won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, he was asked which was more exciting: the Nobel Peace Prize or becoming president? Carter replied, “When Rosalynn said she was going to marry me – I think that was the most exciting thing.”