Rosalynn Carter: Former first lady honored in private tribute service

Friends, family, members of Congress and Georgia elected officials gathered at the Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church in Atlanta on Tuesday afternoon for an invitation-only tribute service to remember former first lady Rosalynn Carter.

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Carter, 96, died in her hometown of Plains, Georgia, on Nov. 19, two days after The Carter Center announced she had entered home hospice care. She is survived by her husband of 77 years, former President Jimmy Carter, and several children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

President Carter and several family members attended Tuesday’s tribute service, with grandchildren serving as honorary pallbearers. One grandson and three of the Carters’ great-grandchildren read Scripture passages throughout the service.

The tribute featured some of Rosalynn Carter’s favorite Scripture passages and songs. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, pianist David Osborne and Carter family friends Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood performed for mourners.

Glenn Memorial’s pastor, the Rev. Mark Westmoreland, began the service by giving the call to worship and invocation. The Carters’ personal pastor, Pastor Tony Lowden, gave opening remarks before the Carters’ second eldest son, James Earl “Chip” Carter III, welcomed guests.

He credited his mother with saving his life after she got him help amid a struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, calling her the “glue that held our family together through the ups and downs and thicks and thins of our family’s politics.”

Daughter Amy Carter presented a reading and remembered her parents’ love for one another, reading from a letter President Carter wrote to his wife 75 years prior.

Tributes were also delivered by longtime aide and friend Kathryn Cade, journalist Judy Woodruff and grandson Jason Carter.

Jason Carter remembered his grandmother as kind, down to Earth, caring and funny. He highlighted her work to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

“If you imagine just how far our society has come in the last five years on issues of mental health, and you think that she decided in 1970 to tackle the ancient stigma associated with mental illness, it is remarkable how far she could see and how far she was willing to walk,” he said.

Brooks and Yearwood performed “Imagine” toward the end of the service, which Lowden closed with a benediction.

Guests included President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and former first ladies Melania Trump, Michelle Obama, Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton.

Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentlemen Doug Emhoff were also in attendance.

Rosalynn Carter entered home hospice care on Nov. 17, nine months after her husband, the 99-year-old former president. The couple was married for 77 years before her death, marking the longest marriage of any presidential couple.

The tribute service Tuesday is scheduled one day before a planned funeral service for the first lady. The funeral procession will arrive just before 11 a.m. at the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains ahead of a service for family and friends. At 12:30 p.m., the casket will be taken by hearse to the Carter family residence for a private interment, according to the Center.

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