Hundreds Celebrate Rosalynn Carter

Family plans three days of memorials to former first lady
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 27, 2023 7:10 PM CST
Tributes Reflect Rosalynn Carter's Impact
Members of the Georgia State Patrol honor guard stand at the casket of former first lady Rosalynn Carter as Paige Alexander, CEO of the Carter Center, speaks Monday at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson, Pool)

Hundreds of people turned out Monday to salute Rosalynn Carter on the former first lady and global humanitarian's final journey from her hometown to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta. The Carter family began three days of memorials following her death Nov. 19 at age 96, the AP reports. Former President Jimmy Carter, who is 99, plans to attend a church service Tuesday in Atlanta for his partner of more than 77 years, the Carter Center confirmed. The tributes started Monday morning as Rosalynn Carter's casket traveled by motorcade through the Carters' native Sumter County, where well-wishers gathered along the route in their hometown of Plains and attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the college from which she graduated in 1946.

Lyndea Brown came to the short ceremony at Georgia Southwestern State University from nearby Albany, saying she wanted to salute "a remarkable woman" who attended local cancer benefits and fought for rural health services. "They were always real hometown people," Brown said. "We don't get presidents and first ladies like that anymore, people who have true hometown roots and understand what it's like to grow corn and peanuts and whatever else and to struggle over health care." During the stop at Rosalynn Carter's alma mater, her four children—Jack, Chip, Jeff, and Amy—watched as wreaths of white flowers were placed beside a statue of their mother on the campus where she founded the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving to advocate for millions of unpaid caregivers in American households.

Generations of the Carter family—including the former first lady's grandchildren and great-grandchildren—accompanied the hearse to Atlanta, where she was to lie in repose as members of the public paid respects Monday evening at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. Two funerals, planned for Tuesday in Atlanta and Wednesday in Plains, are for invited guests. President Biden and first lady Jill Biden, longtime friends of the Carters, plan to lead the dignitaries at the Atlanta service. The burial Wednesday in Plains will be private.

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The schedule, a product of detailed planning that involved the former first couple, reflects the range of Rosalynn Carter's interests and impact. That includes her advocacy for better mental health treatment and the elevation of caregiving, her role as Jimmy Carter's closest adviser, and her status as matriarch of Plains and Maranatha Baptist Church, where she and the former president served in various roles after leaving the White House in 1981. "All over the world, people are celebrating her life," said Kim Fuller, the Carters' niece, while teaching a Bible lesson Sunday at Maranatha. "And of course we're coming into a week now where we're gonna celebrate even more."

(More Rosalynn Carter stories.)

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