Plains, Georgia — The life and legacy of former first lady Rosalynn Carter will be celebrated and commemorated on Wednesday in her beloved hometown of Plains, Georgia.
Rosalynn Carter will receive a service at Maranatha Baptist Church, where she and former President Jimmy Carter faithfully attended. She will be buried at the Carter family home in Plains.
According to Amber Roessner, a professor at the University of Tennessee and an expert on the Carters, Plains was more than just a home for Rosalynn Carter. It was also a source of inspiration and renewal.
“Plains was such an nourishing and regenerating space for them where they could find themselves in these key moments of their lives,” Roessner told CNN.
The service in Plains follows a tribute in Atlanta on Tuesday, which was attended by dignitaries and leaders, including President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden, former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary Hillary Clinton, and former first ladies Laura Bush, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump.
Plains prepares for final farewell The small farming town of Plains, Ga., with a population of 600, was busy and bustling on Wednesday morning with law enforcement, volunteers and media ahead of the funeral and burial of former first lady Rosalynn Carter.
The streets in and around downtown Plains and the Maranatha Baptist Church, where a private service for family and friends will begin at 11 a.m., were marked with traffic cones and metal barriers.
Mourners started to arrive at the church around 8:30 a.m. They were transported from the Plains welcome center by charter buses.
The main roads of the town will be shut down before the service and the final procession on Main Street, where the public can witness Rosalynn Carter’s motorcade as it travels from the church to the Carter Home and Garden, part of the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park.
Rosalynn Carter will be interred next to the modest ranch-style home that she and Jimmy Carter have lived in since 1961.
The Carters were regulars at the church since their return to Plains after their presidency in 1981. Jimmy Carter’s Sunday school classes attracted visitors from all over the country, and Rosalynn Carter, a deacon and a Sunday school teacher, initiated the church’s food drive, which now provides food for hundreds of families every month. The former first lady was involved in the charity event well into her 90s.
Rosalynn Carter: A life of service and compassion
The memorial service for Rosalynn Carter on Tuesday was a tribute to her lifelong commitment to humanitarian causes around the globe. The former first lady was praised for her advocacy for mental health, women’s rights, and peace and health initiatives through The Carter Center.
Kathryn Cade, a close friend and former aide of Rosalynn Carter, said to the audience, “She was an extraordinary woman: A wife, a mother, a business manager, a political strategist, a diplomat, an advocate, an author. But what I admired most about her was her relentless dedication to caring for others.”
The speakers also shared anecdotes that showed Rosalynn Carter’s personal side. Jason Carter, one of the Carters’ grandchildren, recalled a flight they took together as a family.
He said, “My grandmother took out this Tupperware of pimento cheese and this loaf of bread, and she just started making sandwiches. She gave them to all of us grandkids and everyone else, and then she just started handing them out to other people on the plane. And people were like, ‘Rosalynn Carter just made me a sandwich, you know?’ They were amazed, but she loved people.”
‘A difficult farewell’ In Plains, Rosalynn Carter’s hometown, people gathered to welcome her back for the final time.
At the auditorium of Plains High School, where Rosalynn Carter graduated as the valedictorian in 1944, a group of about a dozen people – mostly national park service workers – watched the memorial service for the former first lady. They applauded after each speaker, along with the crowd in Atlanta.
Joan and Dave Vogt were among the visitors who watched the service at the auditorium. They were on their way from Illinois to Sarasota, Florida, for a family vacation, and decided to stop by the Carters’ hometown. Joan Vogt said, “It felt very intimate, being in the former first lady’s high school and watching the memorial service.” She had met Rosalynn Carter once at Goshen College, a liberal arts college in Indiana, where Rosalynn Carter was campaigning for her husband, who was running for president then.
In another part of Plains, Ramona Kurland said she had known the former first lady and former president for about 30 years through the political memorabilia shop she and her husband owned in the town. She watched a live stream of Rosalynn Carter’s memorial service on her phone, while greeting customers. She identified each member of the Carter family as they appeared on the screen. After a speech by James “Chip” Carter, she wiped her cheek. She said, “It’s hard when you know them.”