(Atlanta) Former US first lady Rosalyn Carter, who served as Jimmy Carter’s only term as US president and was his closest adviser for four decades, has died at the age of 96.
He died Sunday after months of dementia and frailty, the Carter Center announced.
The Carters were married for more than 77 years, and they both described it as a “full partnership.” Unlike many first ladies, Rosalyn Carter attended cabinet meetings, spoke on controversial issues, and represented her husband on his foreign trips. President Carter’s aides sometimes refer to him — privately — as the “co-chairman.”
During his years in the White House from 1977 to 1981, Jimmy Carter told his aides, “Rosallyn was my best friend.
Fiercely loyal, compassionate and politically astute, Rosalyn Carter prided herself as an activist first lady, and no one doubted her influence behind the scenes. When his role in a high-level cabinet reshuffle was revealed, he was forced to publicly declare: “I don’t run the government.”
Many of the president’s aides insisted that her political instincts were better than her husband’s — often confirming support for a project before they discussed it with the president. Her iron will, contrasted with her seemingly shy demeanor and soft Southern accent, prompted Washington journalists to nickname her “Steel Magnolia.”
Both Carters later said that Rosaline was always the more political of the two. After the crushing defeat of Jimmy Carter in 1980, he thought about the incredible income, not the former president, and admitted years later that he missed his life in Washington.
Jimmy Carter is the longest serving US President. After Bess Truman, who died at 97, Rosalyn Carter is the second longest-lived First Lady.
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