Former U.S. first lady Eleanor Rosalynn Carter has died at the age of 96 after it was announced that she entered home hospice care Friday.
Carter died peacefully Sunday afternoon in Plains, Georgia, surrounded by her family, according to an announcement released by the Carter Center in Atlanta.
“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” President Carter said. “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.”
She is survived by her children - Jack, Chip, Jeff, and Amy - as well as 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren.
The former first lady served her time in the White House from 1977 until 1981, when her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, served as the 39th president of the United States. In August, Rosalynn celebrated her 96th birthday at the Carter home in Plains, joined by their family, including former President Carter.
Earlier, in July, the Carters celebrated their 77th wedding anniversary, before President Carter celebrated his 99th birthday in October.
In November, the former first lady was put under hospice care at her Georgia home.
Her grandson, Jason Carter, said in a statement released by the Carter Center that the family was “grateful for the outpouring of love and support.”
In August, their grandson shared that the couple still held hands regularly.
Their grandson Josh said in an interview earlier this year, "My grandparents have always been the entertainers."
He said at the time, "It's clear we're in the final chapter."
The Carters held a long-standing love for butterflies and said they’d loved them since they were children. They even launched a butterfly garden in their beloved town of Plains. That area is now known as the Rosalynn Carter Butterfly Trail, creating a network of gardens that support a habitat for monarch butterflies.
Rosalynn shared in her husband’s efforts to work to make the U.S. government more “competent and compassionate,” the White House said.
Born Eleanor Rosalynn Smith in Plains on Aug. 18, 1927, she served as an envoy abroad for her country when she joined President Carter in the White House.
The former president said he told his mother after their first date with the then-17-year-old, “She’s the girl I want to marry.”
Rosalynn, the first of four children in her family, went on to make that dream come true for Mr. Carter, who was home from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis during their early years together. They would later return north, headed to Norfolk, Virginia, where President Carter was first assigned to appear at his first duty station.
In 1984, Mrs. Carter wrote her first autobiography, titled First Lady from Plains.
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