Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, who passed away November 19 at the age of 96, will always be remembered as someone who devoted her life serving the nation, not only during the time at the White House, but beyond.
She was an advocate for women’s rights and spent her lifetime raising awareness about mental health.
On January 20, 1977, Jimmy was inaugurated as the 39th President of the United States. Rosalynn was by his side and wore the same gown she had worn when he was sworn in as Georgia Governor years earlier.
During his presidency, Roselynn wasn’t just a First Lady, but she was her husband’s closest advisor and stood by his side supporting every decision he made as a head of the country.
“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” former president Jimmy Carter said in the statement following her passing. “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.”
Two years ago, Jimmy Carter and his loving wife Rosalynn celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary and held the title of the longest-married presidential couple.
The Carters tied the knot on July 7, 1946, in their hometown of Plains, Georgia, where they celebrated the special milestone.
Rosalynn’s family lived next to Jimmy’s and she was a very good friend with his sister. She remembered that Jimmy’s sister had a photo of him on the wall and she fell in love with that photo showing young Jimmy wearing his uniform.
“I didn’t know a single boy I thought I’d want to spend my life with until Jimmy Carter came calling,” Rosalynn explained.
When Jimmy returned to Plains on a break from the Naval Academy, his then-girlfriend was away at a family reunion, so he missed the opportunity to see her.
“I was cruising around with my sister, Ruth, and her boyfriend, just looking for a date, and I picked up Rosalynn in front of the Methodist church,” Jimmy recalled in What Makes a Marriage Last. When he laid eyes on Rosalynn, he immediately knew she was the one.
“I just felt compatible with her. She was beautiful and innocent, and there was a resonance. We rode in the rumble seat of a Ford pickup – Ruth and her boyfriend in the front – and I kissed her on that first date. I remember that vividly.”
“The moon was full in the sky, conversation came easy, and I was in love,” Rosalynn wrote in her memoir First Lady from Plains about their first date.
They started dating but didn’t marry until she turned 18 because she made a promise to her dying father that she won’t marry before finishing school.
With Rosalynn’s passing, Jimmy Carter lost not only his life companion, but his best friend.
The Carter’s son Chip also issued a statement thanking his mother for the tireless work she put in to give Americans better access to mental health care.
“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.”
The former First Lady was honored by her loved ones and laid to rest on Wednesday in her longtime home of Plains, Georgia. The funeral service was held at Maranatha Baptist Church, where Jimmy Carter and the former first lady worshipped. Earlier tributes were held in nearby Americus and in Atlanta.
The ceremony saw the attendance of both current and former U.S. First Ladies, including Dr. Jill Biden, Michelle Obama, Melania Trump, Laura Bush, and Hillary Clinton.
What caught the attention of many was the outfit Melania Trump chose for the occasion. As most of the attendees wore black, she wore a gray tweed coat cinched at the waist with a belt, deviating from the all-black protocol. The mid-calf length of the coat left her bare legs exposed and she wore black leather gloves.
Melania Trump certainly stood out in a rare public appearance for Rosalynn Carter’s memorial service. She was spotted in a grey tweed coat—a stark contrast compared from the other first ladies in attendance, all of whom wore traditional black. https://t.co/pxQSakhkMA
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) November 29, 2023
Plenty of people commented on the photos and videos of Melania, disapproving of her choice of outfit for Rosalynn’s funeral.
“Melania can’t wear black?? How disrespectful,” someone commented.
Others questioned if she even owned a black coat, while others suggested that the facial expressions of the rest of the former First Ladies disapproved of Melania’s outfit as well.
Some, of course, defended her. “The day was about Mrs. Carter, not about what anyone was wearing. Good grief, can’t we even be decent about a funeral anymore?” someone wrote.
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