Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter Dead at 96
Rosalynn was born Eleanor Rosalynn Smith in 1927 in Plains, Georgia. She graduated Georgia Southwestern College in 1946. Later that year, she married her husband, who had just graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. She was 18 and he was 21 at the time. They were the longest-married presidential couple.
Throughout her life, Rosalynn was an advocate of mental health, caregiving and equal rights.
She also championed immunizing children against preventable disease. When her husband was president amid a measles outbreak, she worked to make vaccinations a routine public health practice and by 1981, 95 percent of children entering school were immunized against measles and other diseases, according to her bio on her memorial tribute site.
In 1982, the Carters founded the Carter Center, which aims to “improve lives by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy and preventing diseases,” according to its mission statement.
Five years later, Rosalynn founded the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers at Georgia Southwestern State University. In 2000, the Carter Center and Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health established the Rosalynn Carter Endowed Chair in Mental Health, the first endowed chair in mental health policy at a school of public health.
According to the Carter Center, when asked once how she would like to be remembered, Rosalynn said, “I would like for people to think that I took advantage of the opportunities I had and did the best I could.”