Former first lady Rosalynn Carter has died at the age of 96, per an announcement by the Carter Center.
According to the Center, she died on Sunday, following months of declining health. Her family reported she had been living with Dementia in May, and last week moved her to hospice care.
She is survived by her husband and former president Jimmy Carter, their four children, eleven grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” the former president said in the Center’s announcement. “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.”
“Besides being a loving mother and extraordinary First Lady, my mother was a great humanitarian in her own right,” the announcement quoted the pair’s second-oldest 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.”
“She was a champion for equal rights and opportunities for women and girls; an advocate for mental health and wellness for every person; and a supporter of the often unseen and uncompensated caregivers of our children, aging loved ones, and people with disabilities,” President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said in a joint statement.
“On behalf of a grateful nation, we send our love to President Carter, the entire Carter family, and the countless people across our nation and the world whose lives are better, fuller, and brighter because of the life and legacy of Rosalynn Carter.”
Throughout President Carter’s career, Rosalynn was his closest adviser, and much more politically outspoken than past first ladies. She sat in on Cabinet meetings and spoke out about controversial issues such as mental health, and was sometimes privately referred to by presidential aides as “co-president.”
Ceremonies celebrating the life of Rosalynn Carter will be held through next week in Atlanta and Sumter County, Georgia, with a private funeral on Wednesday.