US presidents and other leaders will travel to Atlanta on Tuesday to bid a final farewell to Rosalynn Carter at a private tribute service that’s among several ceremonies planned through Wednesday in honor of the former first lady.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden, former President Bill Clinton and former first ladies Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Melania Trump are expected to attend the tribute service.
Former President Jimmy Carter, who is 99 and receiving hospice care at home, is also expected to attend the Atlanta service.
Rosalynn Carter, who spent most of her life working on humanitarian projects alongside her husband and was a fierce advocate of mental health reform and destigmatizing mental illness, died on November 19 at the age of 96. Her family said she had entered hospice care two days prior to her death. In May, they said she had been diagnosed with dementia.
Ceremonies honoring Rosalynn Carter’s life and legacy began across Georgia on Monday, with a motorcade traveling from her small hometown of Plains to Atlanta, where she laid in repose for several hours as hundreds came to pay their respects.
On the way to Atlanta, the former first lady’s motorcade made a few brief stops, including at her alma mater, Georgia Southwestern State University, where officials laid wreaths at a bronze statue dedicated to her.
The repose service was held Monday evening at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta.
On Tuesday morning, a departure ceremony will take place at the Carter Presidential Center before Rosalynn Carter’s motorcade heads to Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church at Emory University for the private tribute service.
Vice President Kamala Harris, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens are also expected to attend. Rosalynn Carter’s surviving grandchildren will be honorary pallbearers, the Carter Center said.
The ceremony will feature some of Rosalynn Carter’s favorite scripture passages and songs, according to the center. Country musicians Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, who have participated in Habitat for Humanity projects in honor of the Carters, are also expected to perform.
On Wednesday morning, a private funeral service for family and invited friends is scheduled to take place at the Carters’ beloved Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, where the couple lived since their return from the White House in 1981.
How to watch
While Tuesday’s ceremony is private, members of the public will be able to view the Carter family motorcade as it leaves the Carter Presidential Center in the morning and as it leaves the church in the afternoon, according to the Carter family.
The Carter family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Carter Center Mental Health Program or the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers.
Condolence books are also available to sign at Georgia Southwestern State University, the Plains Welcome Center, Plains High School and at the Carter Presidential Center.
A lifetime of advocacy
In the days since her death, family members and leaders from across the United States have remembered Rosalynn Carter as a lifelong humanitarian and a passionate advocate for a number of causes, including mental health and caregiving.
“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.”
In partnership with her husband, Rosalynn Carter devoted much of her time to advocating for better care for people with mental illnesses. As Georgia’s first lady, she helped shift treatment to community mental health centers, and in the White House, she helped her husband create a presidential commission on mental health.
Side by side, the Carters revolutionized the post-presidency, working for decades toward world peace and human rights on behalf of the nonprofit they founded, the Carter Center.
The two traveled to hot spots around the world, including Cuba, Sudan and North Korea, monitoring elections and working to eradicate Guinea worm disease and other neglected tropical diseases.
Rosalynn Carter also devoted her time to the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, which she founded at Georgia Southwestern State University’s campus.
The Carters were married for more than 77 years.
“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” Jimmy Carter said in a statement after his wife’s passing. “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.”