Tributes to former American first lady Rosalynn Carter have focused on her devout Christianity. “She was a genuinely good woman, a wonderful example of a Christian lady, and a tireless humanitarian,” wrote the Christian Index which calls itself the Voice of Georgia Baptists.
The Carter Center described her as “a passionate champion of mental health, caregiving, and women’s rights” after she passed away at her home in Plains, Georgia, at the age of 96. She died peacefully, with her family by her side.
Mrs. Carter was married for 77 years to Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States and the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize recipient, who is now 99 years old. “Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished. 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,” the former president said.
She is also survived by her four children, 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. “Besides being a loving mother and extraordinary First Lady, my mother was a great humanitarian in her own right. 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,” said her son Chip.
In an editorial The Christian Index wrote: “In reflecting on the life of Rosalynn Carter, Americans should note her civility, a character trait that seems to be in short supply in today’s political world. Mrs. Carter didn’t tear others down. Instead, she built them up.”
“Washington insiders weren’t quite sure what to make of Mrs. Carter when she arrived in the Capital in 1977. Those folks dubbed her the Steel Magnolia — an odd moniker for the diminutive mother of four with the lovely smile, soft southern accent and gentle spirit,” the editorial continued.
“Mrs. Carter was admired by people regardless of their political affiliations, and they have been quick to extol her virtues. Former Republican President Donald Trump said ‘she earned the admiration and gratitude of the nation. She leaves behind a legacy of extraordinary accomplishment and national service.'”
“Mrs. Carter was her husband’s closest adviser during his presidency, and for good reason. A president tends to be surrounded by people who have their own self-interests in mind, people who dole out advice that’s to their own benefit, or to the benefit of the people they represent. That was never the case for Mrs. Carter. She had no selfish motivations. Like the woman described in Proverbs 31, she could be trusted to open her mouth with wisdom. Consider these few words from that well-known passage and note how well they describe this good woman:”
The heart of her husband trusts in her. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life. She dresses herself in strength. She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.
The Christian Index editorial concluded: “Mrs. Carter exuded honesty, integrity, and depth of character. We need others of her ilk in public service today.”
US President Joe Biden praised Mrs. Carter’s “integrity” and recalled: “The Carters are an incredible family because they brought so much grace to the office.” First Lady Jill Biden said Rosalynn Carter “walked her own path, inspiring a nation and the world along the way.” The Bidens reflected in a joint statement: “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.”
Former president George W. Bush called Mrs. Carter a woman of dignity and strength. “There was no greater advocate of President Carter and their partnership set a wonderful example of loyalty and fidelity,” he observed. Former First Lady Michelle Obama wrote: “Guided by her abiding faith and a commitment to service, Mrs. Carter used her platform in profoundly meaningful ways.” She added that she was grateful for the good advice and helping hand she received from her predecessor during her own time in the White House.
Former president Bill Clinton and presidential contender Hillary Clinton described Rosalynn Carter as a champion of human dignity. “Thanks to her mental health advocacy, more people live with better care and less stigma. Because of her early leadership on childhood immunisation, millions of Americans have grown up healthier. And through her decades of work at the Carter Center and with Habitat for Humanity, she spread hope, health, and democracy across the globe. Rosalynn will be forever remembered as the embodiment of a life lived with purpose.”
Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called Mrs. Carter a “saintly and revered public servant” driven by faith, compassion and kindness. “On the world stage, First Lady Carter was a pioneer. Her historic, high-stakes diplomatic mission to Latin America in 1977 ushered in a new era of engagement in the region. Two years later, she became the first sitting First Lady to address the World Health Organization, where she argued that mental health was an aspect of physical health and that health is a human right,” Ms. Pelosi said.
US Senator for Georgia Jon Ossoff noted: “The State of Georgia and the United States are better places because of Rosalynn Carter. I join all Georgians and Americans in mourning her loss. May Rosalynn Carter’s memory be a blessing.”
For most of their lives the Carters were active members of the Maranatha Baptist Church, serving as long-time deacons and Sunday school teachers. The church said Mrs. Carter selflessly served her congregation and her community, founding the church’s food ministry which hands out thousands of kilograms of food to local families each month, adding: “Although she is no longer present with us on this earth, we rejoice in knowing that her fellowship is now in Heaven with her Saviour and Friend, our Redeemer, Jesus.”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons