⬛️⬛️ Former first lady Rosalynn Carter, the closest adviser to Jimmy Carter during his one term as U.S. president and their four decades thereafter as global humanitarians, has died at the age of 96.
The Carter Center said she died Sunday after living with dementia and suffering many months of declining health.
The Carters were married for more than 77 years, forging what they both described as a “full partnership.” Unlike many previous first ladies, Rosalynn sat in on Cabinet meetings, spoke out on controversial issues and represented her husband on foreign trips. Aides to President Carter sometimes referred to her — privately — as “co-president.”
“Rosalynn is my best friend … the perfect extension of me, probably the most influential person in my life,” Jimmy Carter told aides during their White House years, which spanned from 1977-1981.
Fiercely loyal and compassionate as well as politically astute, Rosalynn Carter prided herself on being an activist first lady, and no one doubted her behind-the-scenes influence. When her role in a highly publicized Cabinet shakeup became known, she was forced to declare publicly, “I am not running the government.”
Many presidential aides insisted that her political instincts were better than her husband’s — they often enlisted her support for a project before they discussed it with the president. Her iron will, contrasted with her outwardly shy demeanor and a soft Southern accent, inspired Washington reporters to call her “the Steel Magnolia.”
Both Carters said in their later years that Rosalynn had always been the more political of the two. After Jimmy Carter’s landslide defeat in 1980, it was she, not the former president, who contemplated an implausible comeback, and years later she confessed to missing their life in Washington.