Remembering Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter

Published 10:04 am Tuesday, November 21, 2023

By Leila Case

I met Rosalynn Carter shortly after moving here when she was recognized by Sumter Players, the local
community theatre, for her service on their board of directors. She was then first lady of Georgia, her
husband Jimmy Carter was then Georgia’s governor.
She stopped to speak to me and, of course, I was thrilled. Through the years I got to know Mrs. Carter,
especially after I joined the news staff of this newspaper and covered numerous events involving the
former president and his wife. I have long admired her.
Mrs. Carter dedicated her long public life advocating for individuals and families affected by mental
illness and for those in caregiving relationships with loved ones: first in the Georgia Governor’s Mansion,
then in the White House, and later at The Carter Center. She established the Rosalynn Institute for
Caregiving at Georgia Southwestern State University in 1987 to promote the health, strength and
resilience of America’s caregivers.
In October of 1976, I was among a small number of journalists representing various news agencies
invited to travel with Mrs. Carter for a few days. She was on the campaign trail supporting her husband’s
bid for the presidency. Our group flew from Albany, New York, to New York City where she spoke at a
series of news conferences, drawing large crowds at each one .Included in each address she pointed out
that after her husband was elected president her platform as first lady was to promote better health care
for the elderly and remove the stigma surrounding mental illness.
After the Carter’s left the White House and returned home to Plains in 1981, the former first lady
continued to advocate better health care as one her many interests including launching The Carter Center
in Atlanta in 1982 with her husband.
When The Carter Center announced Mrs. Carter died Sunday afternoon at the age of 96. I was surprised,
as we all are of someone passing yet I wasn’t because she had been suffering from dementia for months.
She leaves a legacy that is immeasurable. She was the embodiment of a strong, southern lady and
dedicated wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother. And she’ll be sorely missed. I’m blessed to
have known her. She’s now in Jesus’ hand. My thoughts and prayers are for the repose of her soul.