‘She walked her own path and inspired the world’: Joe Biden pays tribute to former First Lady Rosalynn Carter as she dies aged 96 – as Barack and Michelle Obama share condolences
Joe and Jill Biden and Barack and Michelle Obama have paid tribute to former First Lady Rosalynn Carter after she died aged 96.
The Bidens and the Obamas joined Donald Trump and Bill Clinton in celebrating the life of former President Jimmy’s late wife.
Biden, a family friend and an early endorser of Jimmy’s 1976 presidential run, said Rosalynn ‘walked her own path, inspiring a nation and the world along the way.’
‘On behalf a grateful nation, we send our love to the entire Carter family and the countless people whose lives are better, fuller, and brighter because of Rosalynn Carter,’ he added.
Biden’s former boss, Barack Obama, added his own praise for the ex-First Lady in a statement and passed on his best wishes to Jimmy.
President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama all took part in the chorus of well wishers to former First Lady Rosalynn Carter on Sunday. Pictured: Biden, First Lady Jill Biden and the Carters in 2021
‘Rosalynn Carter’s life is a reminder that no matter who we are, our legacies are best measured not in awards or accolades, but in the lives we touch. We send our thoughts and prayers to Jimmy and the entire Carter family during this difficult time,’ he wrote.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama wrote a longer statement containing a photo of the two presidential wives speaking together and another alongside Hillary Clinton.
‘You learn very quickly that there is no handbook or rules to being First Lady. Technically, it’s not even an official position.
‘And while there are spoken and unspoken expectations that provide some structure, the role is largely shaped by the passions and aspirations of the person holding it,’ she wrote. ‘First Lady Rosalynn Carter understood that well.’
Mrs Obama praised Mrs Carter’s commitment to advocating for mental health care, elder care and women’s rights.
‘She remained a champion for those causes — and many others like building affordable housing for those in need and caring for our nation’s caregivers — in the more than four decades that followed.’
She then shared a touching story of Carter’s visits to have lunch with Obama during her husband’s time as president.
‘When our family was in the White House, every so often, Rosalynn would join me for lunch, offering a few words of advice and always — always — a helping hand.
‘She reminded me to make the role of First Lady my own, just like she did. I’ll always remain grateful for her support and her generosity.’
Biden – a longtime friend of the family and an early endorser of Jimmy Carter’s 1976 presidential campaign – posted a statement to X Sunday, saying Mrs. Carter ‘walked her own path, inspiring a nation and the world along the way’
Obama’s wife, former First Lady Michelle Obama, wrote a longer statement containing a photo of the two presidential wives speaking together
Obama and Carter speaking with fellow former First Ladies Hillary Clinton and Nancy Reagan in 2011
‘Today, Barack and I join the world in celebrating the remarkable legacy of a First Lady, philanthropist, and advocate who dedicated her life to lifting up others.’
‘Her life is a reminder that no matter who we are, our legacies are best measured not in awards or accolades, but in the lives we touch. We send our thoughts and prayers to Jimmy and the entire Carter family during this difficult time.’
Biden’s wife and current First Lady Jill Biden, also offered a brief statement of her own on Sunday.
‘First Lady Rosalynn Carter walked her own path, inspiring a nation and the world along the way,’ she wrote.
‘My love is with the entire Carter family, as they, and we, grieve our dearest Rosalynn.’
Biden’s wife and current First Lady Jill Biden (pictured right), also offered a brief statement of her own on Sunday
President Carter and President Biden greet Michelle Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention
The former First Lady and wife of Jimmy Carter passed away day two days after she entered hospice care and six months after she was diagnosed with dementia.
A veteran women’s rights campaigner, she was married to President Carter for 77 years and died at 2.10pm with her family at her side at her home in Plains, Georgia.
She is survived by her children — Jack, Chip, Jeff, and Amy — and 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. A grandson died in 2015.
‘Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,’ President Carter, 99, said this afternoon.
‘She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.’
Rosalynn Carter dies aged 96: Ex-First Lady and wife of Jimmy Carter passes away day two days after she enter hospice care and six months after dementia diagnosis
A decades-long love story: Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter in 1946. The pair were married for 77 years
Former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter walks with his wife, former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter towards their home following dinner at a friend’s home on Saturday August 04, 2018 in Plains
‘Besides being a loving mother and extraordinary First Lady, my mother was a great humanitarian in her own right,’ said he son Chip Carter.
‘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.’
First lady Jill Biden broke the news to service members and their families at a Naval Station Norfolk event.
‘The former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has just passed,’ she told them.
‘She was well known for her efforts on mental health and caregiving and women’s rights, and so I hope that during the holidays you’ll include the Carter family in your prayers.’
Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter, 99, were ‘spending time together,’ in their final days her family said.
The president has been in hospice care at their home in Georgia for several months.
They are the longest married couple in U.S. presidential history, meeting when Jimmy was just three years old and Rosalynn was a newborn.
They celebrated their 77nd wedding anniversary on July 7, 2023.
The couple first dated in 1945. A then 20-year-old Jimmy was attending the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, and stole a kiss from Rosalynn on their first date.
The couple had four children, 21 grandchildren and great grandchildren together
Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has entered into hospice care at her home. She and President Carter are shown in 2021
Former first lady Rosalynn Carter looks on as President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden leave the home of former President Jimmy Carter during a trip to mark Biden’s 100th day in office, Thursday, April 29, 2021,
Then-Georgia State Senator Jimmy Carter hugs his wife, Rosalynn, at his Atlanta campaign headquarters in this 1966 file photo
The Carters at the Democratic National Convention in New York City in July 1976
The then-president kisses his wife as he boards a helicopter for a trip from the White House to Camp David in May 1979
Carter with his wife Rosalynn and their daughter Amy at the Baptist church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia in 1976.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill visited Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter at their Plains, Georgia, home in May, 2021 – where the Carters decided to spend the last chapter of their lives
Carter, a Navy veteran and Nobel Peace Prize winner, became the 39th U.S. president when he defeated former President Gerald R. Ford in 1976 with the country still reeling after the Watergate scandal under President Richard Nixon.
He served a single term that was blighted by an oil crisis that forced Americans to wait in line for gas, and was defeated by Republican Ronald Reagan in 1980.
Rosalynn sat in on cabinet meetings and served as her husband’s personal envoy during his term as president between 1977 and 1981.
‘Jimmy’s always talked things over with me, like when he was choosing the Vice President or the Cabinet,’ she said of her time in the White House.
‘I’ve always been involved in the meetings. I always tell him what I think even if I disagree — and I’ll continue to do that.’
The couple made their last public appearance at the Plains Peanut Festival in Georgia in September when they were driven down the flag-lined street in a black SUV.
Jimmy told People in 2015 that marrying her was the ‘best thing I ever did,’ describing their partnership as the ‘pinnacle’ of his life.
Ahead of their 75th wedding anniversary in 2021 he said ‘My biggest secret is to marry the right person if you want to have a long-lasting marriage’.
‘Every day there needs to be reconciliation and communication between the two spouses,’ he added, explaining that he and Rosalynn, both devout Christians, read the Bible together aloud each night – something they had done for years, even when separated by their travels.
‘We don’t go to sleep with some remaining differences between us.’
Rosalynn was diagnosed with dementia in May – three months after her husband entered hospice care at their Georgia home.
‘Mrs. Carter has been the nation’s leading mental health advocate for much of her life,’ the Carter Center said at the time.
‘First in the Georgia Governor’s Mansion, then in the White House, and later at The Carter Center, she urged improved access to care and decreased stigma about issues surrounding mental health.
Jimmy and Rosalynn are seen above kissing during a reopening ceremony for the redesigned Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta in October 2009
‘Every day there needs to be reconciliation and communication between the two spouses,’ the former president said, explaining that he and Rosalynn, both devout Christians, read the Bible together aloud each night
The couple were pictured at the funeral of President George H.W. Bush in 2018
President Donald Trump, Melania Trump, President Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and President Jimmy Carter with Rosalynn Carter stand during a state funeral service for former President George H.W. Bush in December 2018
The couple lived in the home town where they were born and grew up. They are seen above in Plains, Georgia in February 2017
Rosalynn and her husband pictured together with a Boy Scout troop in November last year
The couple continued to enjoy life’s simple pleasures in 2018, including regular servings of his favorite ice cream according to Jason Carter, his grandson.
‘One in 10 older Americans have dementia, a condition that affects overall mental health. We recognize, as she did more than half a century ago, that stigma is often a barrier that keeps individuals and their families from seeking and getting much-needed support.
‘As the founder of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, Mrs. Carter often noted that there are only four kinds of people in this world: those who have been caregivers; those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.’
Senate leader Chuck Schumer was among the first to pay tribute on X, formerly Twitter, saying she ‘dedicated her life to serving others’.
‘America has lost a passionate humanitarian and champion for people all over the world,’ he added, ‘My heart goes out to her entire family.’
Former Vice-President Al Gore called her a ‘remarkable leader’.
‘Unwavering in her partnership with her husband, Jimmy, she built upon the work they did together by championing the causes of mental health, human rights, and the needs of children around the world,’ he wrote.
‘I was blessed to have been able to work alongside her on a number of issues and still fondly remember building homes together for Habitat for Humanity.’
House minority leader Hakeem Jeffries said she was a ‘beloved First Lady and wonderful humanitarian, she led a life of service and compassion’.
Texas senator Ted Cruz said: ‘Rosalynn was known for her incredible generosity and kindness to everyone who crossed her path.’
In August 2015, President Carter had a small cancerous mass removed from his liver. The following year, Carter announced that he needed no further treatment, as an experimental drug had eliminated any sign of cancer.
That same year, he was diagnosed with metastatic melanoma that was detected in his liver and spread to his brain.
About six months after the diagnosis, Carter announced he no longer needed cancer treatment due in part to a groundbreaking medication that trains the immune system to fight cancer tumors.
He was hospitalized two years later for dehydration while building homes with Habitat for Humanity in Canada.
Despite his series of health scares, the president remained active in public life up until recent times.
The Carter Center, the nonprofit human rights organization the couple established in 1982, has set up an online condolence book and said a schedule of memorial events and funeral ceremonies will be published as soon as possible.