An Account of the Life of Rosalynn Carter, Former First Lady of the U.S. 4:01

(CNN) -- Former first lady Rosalynn Carter will be laid to rest in Atlanta, Georgia, as the public pays their respects and shares their final farewells, as part of three days of ceremonies to commemorate Carter and his legacy.


Carter died peacefully at his Plains home on Nov. 19 at the age of 96, two days after the Carter Center announced he would receive hospice care at his home. A tireless advocate for mental health reform and the destigmatization of mental illness, Rosalynn Carter spent most of her life dedicated to humanitarian work, always at the side of her husband of more than 77 years, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. In May, the Carter Center reported that Rosalynn Carter had dementia.

  • Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is expected to attend the funeral of his wife, Rosalynn Carter

The couple had returned to their home in Plains, about 190 miles south of Atlanta, after leaving the White House in 1981 and had lived there ever since. Jimmy Carter, 99, began receiving hospice care at home in February after a series of hospital stays.

The Carters' last public appearance was on Sept. 23, when they participated in the annual peanut festival in Plains, Georgia. Jimmy Carter is expected to attend his wife's funeral on Tuesday, according to his grandson Jason Carter.
People from across the state — and across the country — flocked to Plains last week to celebrate the life and legacy of Rosalynn Carter as the town of several hundred people prepared to say goodbye.

"He gave so much to the community, to our world," Georgia resident Andy Huggins told CNN last week.

"I felt the need to stop by one more time, just to be in the presence of his spirit. He was a beautiful person."

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In this Feb. 8, 2017, file photo, former President Jimmy Carter, right, and his wife Rosalynn arrive for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a farmland solar panel project he owns in their hometown of Plains. Credit: David Goldman/AP

The ceremonies began Monday

Rosalynn Carter's entourage left downtown Plains at 10 a.m. on Monday and drove through the nearby town of Americus. The motorcade made a brief stop at a medical center, where "former members of their U.S. Secret Service protection team acted as honorary pallbearers during a brief farewell ceremony," reported the Carter Center, the nonprofit organization founded by the Carters.

An Account of the Life of Rosalynn Carter, Former First Lady of the U.S. 4:01

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

University President Neal Weaver and Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers CEO Jennifer Olsen placed the wreaths on opposite sides of the statue. The former first lady founded the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers on the university's campus in 1987, and since then the organization has supported and advocated for "tens of millions of Americans who provide unpaid care to their loved ones," the university said.

"He leaves a legacy that we must strive to fulfill," Weaver said. He praised "the way he related to people, he saw humanity as a really positive thing and he wanted people to succeed and he wanted to invest in their lives."

  • Rosalynn Carter, former first lady of the U.S., mental health activist, dies at 96

He described the former first lady as a "regular" at Georgia Southwestern State University. The students had the opportunity to be "right next to her, working with her and getting to know her and understanding what her commitment was in doing those activities."

Members of the Carter family traveling with the entourage briefly stepped off the bus to shake hands with attendees.

A statue of Rosalynn Carter stands in front of the Health and Human Sciences Complex on the campus of Georgia Southwestern State University, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Americus. Credit: Mike Stewart/AP

The statue depicts the former first lady sitting on a bench, holding her book "First Lady from Plains."
"We will always remember his incredible accomplishments and dedication to service, and we will continue to build on his legacy of advocacy," the school said in a statement last week. "We will never forget what she means to this university."

A funeral was held Monday afternoon at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta, and the public is invited to pay tribute from 18 p.m. to 00 p.m., according to the Carter Center.

Flowers placed at the base of a sign at the entrance to the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta on Nov. 27. Credit: Will Lanzoni/CNN

Tribute service on Tuesday

A private memorial service is scheduled to be held Tuesday at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church on the campus of Emory University, with guests including President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden. Vice President Kamala Harris and the second gentleman are also expected to attend.
A private funeral will be held Wednesday morning for family and friends at Plains' beloved Maranatha Baptist Church.

"Rosalynn Carter's deep compassion for people around the world and her tireless strength on their behalf touched lives around the world. We have heard from thousands of people since his passing," his family said in a statement last week. "Thank you all for joining us in celebrating the treasure that was, not only for us, but for all of humanity."

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

CNN's Jaide Timm-Garcia and Eva McKend contributed to this report.

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