Former first lady Rosalynn Carter died on Sunday at her home at 96 years old, the Carter Center announced.
“She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it,” former President Jimmy Carter said in a statement. “As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.”
In May, the Carter Center announced that Rosalynn was living with dementia. Last week, she joined her husband in hospice care at their Plains, Georgia, home. Former President Carter decided to spend his remaining time at home after a few short hospital stays, the Carter Center announced in February.
The Carter Center said she “died peacefully, with family by her side.”
The Carters were married for 77 years, making them the longest-married presidential couple.
“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” President Carter said.
The Carters had four children together, 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Their son Chip Carter said Rosalynn was “a loving mother and extraordinary first lady.”
“My mother was a great humanitarian in her own right,” Chip Carter added. “Her life of service and compassion was an example for all Americans. She will be sorely missed not only by our family but by the many people who have better mental health care and access to resources for caregiving today.”
They were both originally from Plains, Georgia, and started dating when she was 17 and a student at Georgia Southwestern University. Jimmy Carter reportedly told his mother that he had met his future wife after their first date.
They had a strong bond and partnership, with the former president saying in a 2015 interview, “The best thing I ever did was marrying Rosalynn. That’s the pinnacle of my life.”
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