"As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me," said the former president, whose 77-year marriage with Rosalynn was the longest of any first couple in U.S. history
Rosalynn, the former first lady of the United States, died at age 96 on Sunday afternoon in her longtime Plains, Georgia, home. According to a news release from The Carter Center, she died "peacefully, with her family by her side."
In an accompanying statement, former President Carter, 99, said, "Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished. 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."
The former first lady had been diagnosed with dementia in May, and entered hospice care on Friday. Jimmy terminated medical intervention in February amid his own health challenges and remains in hospice care at home.
Wed in 1946, Rosalynn and Jimmy later welcomed sons John William "Jack," James Earl "Chip," Donnel Jeffrey "Jeff" and daughter Amy Carter. They had 22 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Related: Rosalynn Carter's Life in Photos
As her husband's political career took off, Rosalynn served as his staunch advocate and adviser, and later took on efforts to promote mental wellness.
During Jimmy's tenure as president from 1977 to 1981, she served as the honorary chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health, eventually helping usher through the 1980 passage of the Mental Health Systems Act. She was also a champion of arts and arts programs.
Forever sweethearts, the former first lady and former president coined a sweet phrase they shared with each other: "ILYTG."
"'I love you the goodest.' That's what my mother and daddy used to say back and forth, and I picked it up with Rosa," the nation's 39th president told PEOPLE back in 2014. "Now all our children do the same thing – ILYTG on the phone or in emails. They generally just put the initials."
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