Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter Passes Away at 96

May she RIP🙏🏾🙏🏾🙏🏾

Rosalynn Carter, White House Trendsetter
Her style contribution as first lady deserves a reassessment.
By Vanessa Friedman
Nov. 20, 2023, 9:28 a.m. ET

Rosalynn Carter, who died on Sunday at age 96, was rarely included on any list of best-dressed first ladies. She was not generally called “stylish” or “trendsetting.” She did not play the White House dress-up game, at least as designed by predecessors such as Dolley Madison and Jackie Kennedy. Most of the time, she seemed to actively reject it.

But that does not mean Mrs. Carter did not fully understand the power and political use of clothes, or how to strategically deploy them during her time in Washington. In fact, it is possible to see her time as first lady as a blueprint for an alternative approach to image-making that is still being used today.

Starting with Mrs. Carter’s declaration, after Jimmy Carter was elected in 1976, that the one item she would be taking with her to the White House from Georgia was her sewing machine. As a symbol, it was a succinct message to anyone listening that this was, indeed, a recession-era administration that would prioritize economy and accessibility. It was also a nod to her own folksy roots as the daughter of a dressmaker. And it set the tone for what came next — which was the greatest dressing scandal of the administration.

That took place during the 1977 inauguration, after the Carters had made history by becoming the first first couple to walk rather than ride during the inaugural parade. (Mrs. Carter’s stroll-appropriate high-neck teal cloth coat by Dominic Rompollo, a New York designer, knee-high leather boots and leather gloves all look notably modern.)

Instead of wearing a new gown to the inaugural balls, Mrs. Carter wore the same caftan-like, high-neck, gold-embroidered blue chiffon dress by Mary Matise she had bought and worn to Mr. Carter’s 1971 inauguration as governor of Georgia.

Shock and horror was the general reaction. Used clothes at the inauguration! Despite the fact that Mrs. Carter added a new gold-trimmed cape to gussy it up a bit, also by Mr. Rompollo and purchased through Jason’s, a store in Americus, Ga., The New York Times labeled the dress “old” and called Mrs. Carter a “sentimentalist” for wearing the frock again. The new first lady’s support for Seventh Avenue was questioned as the fashion industry humphed its disdain, as was her ability to represent the United States with befitting glamour on the world stage — despite the fact that glamour had never been the Carters’ sell in the first place. Down-home morality was more like it.

Rest of obituary at link above.

Kaivan Shroff (@KaivanShroff) tweeted at 2:16 PM on Sun, Nov 19, 2023:
“The best thing I ever did was marrying Rosalynn. That’s the pinnacle of my life.” — President Jimmy Carter

Rest in peace Rosalynn Carter. A great First Lady and lifelong public servant.

Everything Georgia (@GAFollowers) tweeted at 2:55 PM on Sun, Nov 19, 2023:

Rosalynn Carter, wife to former president Jimmy Carter has passed away this afternoon at the age of 96. ❤️

She was one of the first major voices that advocated for mental health.

From Michelle Obama:

You learn very quickly that there is no handbook or rules to being First Lady. Technically, it’s not even an official position. And while there are spoken and unspoken expectations that provide some structure, the role is largely shaped by the passions and aspirations of the person holding it.

First Lady Rosalynn Carter understood that well.

Guided by her abiding faith and her commitment to service, Mrs. Carter used her platform in profoundly meaningful ways. Her groundbreaking work to combat the stigma faced by those struggling with their mental health brought light to so many suffering in silence. She advocated for better care for the elderly. She advanced women’s rights. And she remained a champion for those causes — and many others like building affordable housing for those in need and caring for our nation’s caregivers — in the more than four decades that followed.

When our family was in the White House, every so often, Rosalynn would join me for lunch, offering a few words of advice and always — always — a helping hand. She reminded me to make the role of First Lady my own, just like she did. I’ll always remain grateful for her support and her generosity.

Today, Barack and I join the world in celebrating the remarkable legacy of a First Lady, philanthropist, and advocate who dedicated her life to lifting up others. Her life is a reminder that no matter who we are, our legacies are best measured not in awards or accolades, but in the lives we touch. We send our thoughts and prayers to Jimmy and the entire Carter family during this difficult time.

HISTORY (@HISTORY) tweeted at 2:41 PM on Sun, Nov 19, 2023:
As America’s First Lady from 1977-1981, Rosalynn Carter advocated for mental health and other important issues. Throughout Jimmy Carter’s political career, she was one of his biggest supporters, and as lifelong companions they were inseparable. She was instrumental in the…

Tibor M. Kalman (@kalmantibs) tweeted at 2:36 PM on Sun, Nov 19, 2023:
“Do what you can to show you care about other people, and you will make our world a better place.”

— Rosalynn Carter

August 18, 1927, Plains, Georgia.
November 19, 2023, Plains, Georgia.

Rest in Peace, sweet soul.


CBS News (@CBSNews) tweeted at 2:45 PM on Sun, Nov 19, 2023:
Rosalynn Carter married Jimmy Carter in 1946, and they had a partnership unlike any other known at the time for a president and first lady.

“She gave me wise guidance and encouragement,” Jimmy Carter said in a statement Sunday after her death.

NBC News (@NBCNews) tweeted at 2:17 PM on Sun, Nov 19, 2023:
BREAKING: Rosalynn Carter, the former first lady and humanitarian who advocated for mental health issues, has died at the age of 96, according to the Carter Center.

David Darmofal (@david_darmofal) tweeted at 2:33 PM on Sun, Nov 19, 2023:
Along with all of her great accomplishments in life, Rosalynn Carter uttered perhaps the most insightful statement ever about Ronald Reagan & his presidency when she said that he made people comfortable with their prejudices.

When We All Vote (@WhenWeAllVote) tweeted at 2:48 PM on Sun, Nov 19, 2023:
Today we lost an American icon, humanitarian, and mental health advocate. Even after her years in the White House, Rosalynn Carter dedicated her life to service alongside former President Carter.

We’re sending love to President Carter and the entire Carter family.

Christopher Webb (@cwebbonline) tweeted at 2:27 PM on Sun, Nov 19, 2023:
Rest in peace, Rosalynn Carter “Steel Magnolia”

During the 1976 election cycle, journalists dubbed Carter the “steel magnolia” for having a fragile and feminine appearance that concealed a “tough as nails” interior.
[60 Minutes interview, December 1977]

This entry was posted in Breaking News, Current Events, FLOTUS, Open Thread, The White House and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter Passes Away at 96

  1. rikyrah says:

    Josh Campbell (@joshscampbell) tweeted at 7:23 PM on Sun, Nov 19, 2023:
    The US Secret Service on the death of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter:

    “It has been our honor to protect and serve you for all of these years. You were truly a treasure for our nation and our Secret Service family.”

  2. rikyrah says:

    RIP, Mrs. Carter🙏🏾🙏🏾😪😪

Leave a Reply