Humanitarian and former first ladywas honored Tuesday at a tribute service in Georgia, with her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, in attendance. , Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden and all the living former first ladies were also present.
on Nov. 19 at the age of 96. Jimmy Carter, her husband of 77 years who turned 99 last month, , her son said last week. Jimmy Carter has been in hospice care at home since February.
Their son, James “Chip” Carter III, offered a tribute to his mother, recalling how she mended his torn Lyndon B. Johnson shirts, loved the campaign trail, and encouraged him to enter rehab for his addiction struggles.
“She saved my life,” he said.
The second-eldest son of the four Carter children shared fond memories of his mother’s love for adventure, and of her rock-solid faith.
“My mother, Rosalynn Carter, was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met. And pretty to look at, too,” he concluded.
The vice chair of the Carter Center, Kathryn Cade, recalled how the former first lady was a “full participant” in leading the nation. The former first lady, Cade said, sought to alleviate suffering, support caregivers, advocate for equal rights, and remove the stigma attached to mental illness.
“She never sought fame, fortune or accolades for the work that she did,” Cade said. “… In so many different ways, she promoted a more caring society.”
Jimmy Carter used a wheelchair to attend Tuesday’s service. His own health has been precarious and. His son told The Washington Post last week that he had to have a new suit made since none of his suits fit him due to his declining health.
The couple have four children and 22 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The grandchildren served as honorary pallbearers, the Carter Center said.
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were married for 77 years, since Rosalynn was 18, and she was an indispensable partner in his political life.
“What a love story,” journalist Judy Woodruff said in her tribute. “For 77 years, they adored each other, and had much in common — intelligence, compassion, curiosity, courage, and apparently, they could both be a little stubborn. She often said the most challenging time in their marriage was when they co-authored a book.”
Amy Carter, the Carters’ daughter, shared a letter Jimmy Carter wrote to his wife 75 years ago when he was away in the Navy.
“My darling, every time I have ever been away from you, I have been thrilled when I return to discover just how wonderful you are,” the letter read. “… Goodbye, darling. Until tomorrow, Jimmy.”
Various family members played roles Tuesday’s service, with descendants reading Bible verses. The service also featured some of her favorite music performed by artists she loved, including pianist David Osborne, ASO Chamber Chorus and family friends Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
Mr. Biden, first lady Jill Biden, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama arrived at Glenn Memorial Church shortly before the service. They were greeted by Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens and Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia.
All living former first ladies — Clinton, Obama, Laura Bush and Melania Trump — attended Tuesday’s service, along with former President Bill Clinton.
Carter grandson Jason Carter started his remarks by welcoming the former first ladies and Dr. Biden, and then acknowledging Jill Biden and Hillary Clinton’s “lovely husbands.” The line prompted laughs from the attendees.
There will be a funeral procession Wednesday to Maranatha Baptist Church, where a funeral service will take place for friends and family. Her casket will then be transferred to a hearse that will then head to the Carter family residence for private interment.
Rosalynn Carter lay in repose on Monday at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum in Atlanta, where members of the public were invited to pay their respects. A wreath-laying ceremony was held at the Rosalynn Carter Health and Human Sciences Complex at Georgia Southwestern State University, which both Jimmy and Rosalynn attended.