Rosalynn Carter, who was married to former President Jimmy Carter for more than 77 years and served as a true life partner to him before, during and after his presidency, passed away on Sunday in Plains, Georgia, in the same house where they had lived since 1961. She was 96.
An excerpt from the New York Times obituary:
In the continuum of first ladies after Mrs. Roosevelt, Mrs. Carter broke the mold. Like most of the others, she championed a cause — hers was the treatment of mental illness. But she also immersed herself in the business of the nation and kept a sharp eye on politics, a realm her husband famously claimed to ignore.
"She frequently attended Mr. Carter’s cabinet meetings and traveled abroad to meet with heads of state in visits labeled substantive, not ceremonial. She often sat in on the daily National Security Council briefings held for the president and senior staff … The couple held a weekly working lunch to discuss policy. Mrs. Carter testified before Congress and lobbied its members. Her handwriting appears on the drafts of many of her husband’s speeches and policy addresses."
The Times goes on:
"Mrs. Carter entered the White House at the height of the women’s movement and seemed to derive strength from it, though she did not identify herself as a feminist. She lobbied vigorously for the Equal Rights Amendment and for women to participate at all levels of government, from honor guard at the White House to justice of the Supreme Court. She had her staff assemble a roster of qualified women for various appointments, according to the National First Ladies’ Library, and she suggested candidates for federal judgeships.
"With her push, Congress formally recognized the office of the first lady as a federal position and provided funding for a staff. Mrs. Carter became the first presidential wife to carry a briefcase daily to a White House office."