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Rosalynn Carter to lie in repose in Atlanta today as the world prepares for final farewell

Nov 27, 2023, 3:04 PM

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter at the arrival of Deng Xiaoping, Deputy Premier of China, in Washington, ...

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter at the arrival of Deng Xiaoping, Deputy Premier of China, in Washington, DC, on Jan. 29, 1979. (Corbis, Getty Images)

(Corbis, Getty Images)

(CNN) — Former first lady Rosalynn Carter’s motorcade traveled from her small hometown of Plains, Georgia, to Atlanta Monday, where she is set to lie in repose for members of the public to pay their respects and share their final goodbyes.

She died peacefully in her Plains home on Nov. 19, at the age of 96, two days after the Carter Center announced she was entering hospice care at home. A tireless advocate of mental health reform and the destigmatization of mental illness, Rosalynn Carter spent most of her life dedicated to humanitarian efforts, always at the side of her husband of more than 77 years, former US President Jimmy Carter. In May, the Carter Center said Rosalynn Carter had dementia.

The couple had returned home to Plains, about 120 miles south of Atlanta, after leaving the White House in 1981 and had lived there since. Jimmy Carter, who is 99, began receiving home hospice care in February, after a series of hospital stays.

The Carters’ last public appearance was Sept. 23, when they took part in the annual peanut festival in Plains, Georgia. Jimmy Carter is expected to attend his wife’s memorial service Tuesday, according to his grandson Jason Carter.

People from across the state – and across the country – have made their way to Plains in the past week to celebrate Rosalynn Carter’s life and legacy as the town of several hundred prepared to say goodbye.

“She gave so much back to the community, to our world,” Georgia resident Andy Huggins told CNN last week. “I just felt the need to come through here one more time, just being in the presence here of her spirit. She was a beautiful person.”

Ceremonies began Monday

Rosalynn Carter’s motorcade left downtown Plains at 10 a.m. on Monday and traveled through the nearby city of Americus. The motorcade made a short stop at a medical center, where “former members of her U.S. Secret Service Protection detail served as honorary pallbearers during a brief departure ceremony,” the Carter Center, the nonprofit the Carters founded, said.

In one of the first official observances of the former first lady’s death, two wreaths were laid near a bronze statue of Carter outside the Rosalynn Carter Health and Human Sciences Building 1 at Georgia Southwestern State University Monday morning.

University President Neal Weaver and CEO of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, Jennifer Olsen, placed the wreaths on opposite sides of the statue. The former first lady founded the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers on the school’s campus in 1987 and the organization has since supported and advocated for “tens of millions of Americans providing unpaid care for their loved ones,” the school said.

“She leaves a legacy for us to strive to meet,” said Weaver. He lauded “the way that she engaged with people, saw humanity as a real positive and wanted people to be successful and wanted to invest in their lives.”

He described the former first lady as a “regular” at Georgia Southwestern State University. Students had the chance to be “right next to her working with her and getting to know her and understanding what her commitment was to doing those activities.”

Members of the Carter family traveling with the motorcade stepped off the bus briefly to shake hands with participants.

The statue depicts the former first lady sitting on a bench, holding her book, “First Lady from Plains.”

“We will always remember her incredible accomplishments and dedication to service, and will continue to build on her legacy of advocacy,” the school said in a statement last week. “We will never forget what she means to this university.”

A repose service was held Monday afternoon at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta, and members of the public are invited to pay their respects from 6 to 10 p.m., the Carter Center said.

Tribute service to be held Tuesday

A private tribute service is scheduled to take place Tuesday at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church at the Emory University campus, with invited guests that include President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden. Vice President Kamala Harris and the second gentleman are also expected to attend.

private funeral service for family and invited friends is set to take place Wednesday morning at the couple’s beloved Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains.

“Rosalynn Carter’s deep compassion for people everywhere and her untiring strength on their behalf touched lives around the world. We have heard from thousands of you since her passing,” her family said in a statement last week. “Thank you all for joining us in celebrating what a treasure she was, not only to us, but to all humanity.”

The Carter Center said in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Carter Center Mental Health Program or the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers. Additionally, people can share their memories of the former first lady on a website that was created to honor her.

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Rosalynn Carter to lie in repose in Atlanta today as the world prepares for final farewell