‘She was a very classy, southern lady’: Mourners, friends reflect on Rosalynn Carter’s legacy

ATLANTA — Many people gathered at the Carter Presidential Library after the news broke about former first lady Rosalynn Carter’s death.

On Monday, Channel 2′s Candace McCowan spoke with Sandra and Paul Clay on Channel 2 Action News at 6 p.m. When got the news of Mrs. Carter’s death, they knew they were coming to the Carter Center.

They wanted to honor the legacy of Rosalynn Carter and remember their trips to Plains to hear Jimmy Carter teach Sunday school.

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“He provided his perspective from the world and interactions with other world leaders and he was so humble about that, as was she, that they had the divine hand of God on their lives,” said Sandra Clay.

From Plains to Atlanta, others recall seeing the pair out and about and always feeling the warmth they exuded.

“They were just friendly they would always give you ‘hi’ to everybody,” said Michelle Kirby.

On the day after Rosalynn Carter’s death, some are remembering her impact, including her work with mental health and advocating for caregivers. And many said they will never forget the former first lady’s class.

“She was a very classy, southern lady very peace-filled,” said Paul Clay.

“It was very tearful yesterday and you know they’ve lived a full life and they’ve given back a lot,” said Michelle Kirby.

At Manuel’s Tavern, they would often see the Carters eating dinners and for family parties.

“It wasn’t that many years ago we had a New Year’s Eve dinner for the entire Carter family right here in this room,” said owner Brian Maloof.

But the matriarch always stood out in the crowd and she left an impression.

“A polite firmness is what I would call it. If she was not particularly happy with something she would find a nice way to smile at you and tell you it would need to be better,” said Maloof.

It was a quality seen in her work at the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers.

“She was very good at the gentle nudge, while forceful she was able to get people to move in bigger and bolder directions than they were comfortable with,” said Dr. Jennifer Olsen, the CEO of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers.


The former first lady spent decades advocating for the tens of millions of caregivers and it is a legacy that the institute invites everyone to carry forward.

Check on a caregiver in your life, call them bring them a casserole do something to check and talk to them. That’s a simple thing you can do today to honor Mrs. Carter,” said Dr. Olsen.

Those who knew the former first lady are honoring a Georgia legend but also taking a moment to remember the impact Rosalynn had on their lives.

“When I lost my mother and my father I got letters from President Carter and Rosalynn both and that meant a lot to me,” said Maloof.

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