Rosalynn Carter: A Lady of Grace and Courage

Published 11:13 am Tuesday, November 21, 2023

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By Joshua Windus

The day after Rosalynn Carter’s death started out overcast, though the quick break in the clouds did little to remove the somber mood for so many in Plains.

Jill Stucky, The Superintendent of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Park and long-time friend of Rosalynn Carter, summarized the loss of her passing.

“It’s just a horribly sad time for all of us, for me personally, for the town, and for the world.”

Nearby, portraits of Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter were illuminated along the wall of the former Plains Highschool that now serves as a museum. Her downcast expression almost fled as Stucky reminisced about the inspiring effects of Rosalynn’s personality on those around her.

“When Rosalynn was in the room you had hope. Because when she set her mind to a project, eradicating a disease, or helping the plight of monarch butterflies, you knew she was going to work until she got it done or took her last breath, and she took her last breath yesterday. She did an amazing amount of work for the good of everybody else in the 96 years she walked this Earth. She’s going to be sorely missed.”

Chuck Smith, Rosalynn Carter’s nephew, gave a message honoring his aunt’s legacy.

“Rosalynn Carter was a beautiful human being. She worked tirelessly for mental health reforms, women’s rights, racial equality, the eradication of diseases and substandard housing worldwide and for world peace. I am so proud of the example she set by showing us all that a girl from a small town that was raised without a lot of money could make such an impact on the entire world.

Over the years I’ve enjoyed many debates with Uncle Jimmy concerning our sometimes different views on politics. He and I always agreed to disagree. One thing he never argued with me about was the fact that I told him the smartest thing he ever did was marry my aunt!”

Jimmy Carter’s Niece, Kim Fuller, Executive Director of The Friends of Jimmy Carter, talked about her family’s grief.

“We are all heartbroken, but we are just going to continue her legacy by going about our daily activities, making sure the town runs smoothly, and making sure that the Friends of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Park does what she would want us to do.”

Mr. Philip Kurland, at The Trading Post in Plains Georgia, also gave a response while enshrined amidst political decals, buttons, and memorabilia. Wearing glasses and a cardigan, he talked about Rosalynn’s character.

“Rosalynn was a very caring, sweet person. She was the type of person that you would want for a mother, or an aunt, or a grandmother. I’m overwhelmed with the way she just cared about people and their everyday life.”

Kurland described how her compassion coexisted with a forceful personality.

“I remember one time they were both in here, and Rosalynn was going on and on about this one particular politician, and President Carter said ‘Rosy, I’d like to go.’ And she turned around sweetly and said ‘In a minute.’ Well, five minutes later she was still talking and President Carter said ‘Rosy, I want to go.’ And she turned around and yelled at him, ‘I’m not ready!’ So he went bolting out, I think he was a bit stunned, and she went on for another ten minutes.”

Kurland talked about his response after learning of her death.

“When I first found out yesterday, I was pretty stunned and shocked. We all knew she was ill, but no one ever expected either one of the Carter’s to pass on. And then I said to myself, instead of being shocked and upset, why don’t I just try to be a little better person and kinder and do a good deed? And she will be alive forever in spirit in Plains. She’ll always be here. She’s left a mighty good example of how to live a good life.”