On Rosalynn Carter

by | Nov 19, 2023

The country lost a beloved First Lady. My family also lost a dear friend.

Our family relationship with the Carters has endured for 60+ years. When my father was a student at Auburn, he met Lillian Carter (Jimmy’s mother) who was then a dormitory house mother.

I knew Rosalynn Carter all my life. I have fond memories of my family going to Plains to be with the Carters over the years. We also enjoyed trips together across the US and overseas.

In fact, my mother initiated a program that was named for the Carters that promotes university students who volunteers in their communities (“academic service work” in higher education parlance).

Rosalynn was a generous and gentle soul. She was a tireless advocate for human rights, women’s rights, democracy, freedom, & mental health, among other important issues.

I encourage you to read the tributes that are pouring in. I also encourage you to sign the official condolence book here ➡️ https://www.rosalynncartertribute.org/

But I wanted to take a moment to share some personal memories that have come to mind, since learning of her passing:

  • Rosalynn always listened intently. She looked at you in the eye and asked how you’re doing. And she truly wanted to know.
  • Once my mom asked Rosalynn how she works such long days at the Carter Center in Atlanta. Rosalynn responded by pulling the bed down in her office. “I sleep here,” she said with a smile.
  • Every year, we’d celebrate the Carters birthday with Indian flair. My parents would source pashminas from India and then conduct an Indian puja or ceremony at their Carter Center office or home in Plains. President Carter would read scripture, and Rosalynn would share her reflections on growing another year older.
  • When we were in India together, Mrs. Carter was looking for silk to bring back to the United States. So, we went to the cottage industries store so she could look in person. While we were there, my mother helped Rosalynn’s secret service agent find some saffron that he had been looking for.
  • In her correspondence with my mom, Rosalynn would use a blue pen to cross out the “Sincerely” which had been typed. Instead, she’d handwrite “Fondly” as her closing.
  • A few years ago, I produced a song inspired by Jimmy Carter. I invited the artist to perform the piece for Jimmy and Rosalynn. It was fun seeing both of them light up as they heard the music.
  • The Carters were married for 77 years. But Rosalynn said one thing that really tested their partnership was writing their book together “Everything to Gain.” They were so frustrated writing together, they decided not to try it again!

I offer my sincere condolences to President Carter, the Carter family, the Carter Center community, and the many people whose lives Rosalynn touched. We have lost a leading light. We’re better because of Mrs. Carter. May her memory be a blessing to all.

This is a picture I took of Mrs. Carter on a recent trip to Plains.