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Rosalynn Carter funeral: Presidents, first ladies, country stars to mourn humanitarian

Former President Carter will attend Tuesday's tribute for his late wife of 77 years, Rosalynn Carter, as will every living first lady and others.

Former President Carter, 99, is to honor his late wife Rosalynn Carter during a memorial service in Atlanta on Tuesday attended by all living U.S. first ladies and multiple presidents. 

Tuesday's tribute at Glenn Memorial Church at Emory University is expected to begin at 1 p.m. 

It falls on the second of a three-day schedule of public events celebrating the former first lady and global humanitarian who died Nov. 19 at home in Plains, Georgia, at the age of 96. Tributes began Monday in the Carters’ native Sumter County and continued in Atlanta as she lay in repose at The Jimmy Carter Presidential Center.

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden, longtime friends of the Carters, lead the list of dignitaries joining the widowed former president in Atlanta. Former President Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with former first ladies Melania Trump, Michelle Obama and Laura Bush, will pay their respects, as will Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and his wife Marty Kemp. Former Presidents Trump, Obama and Bush were invited but will not attend, according to The Associated Press. 

County music stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, family friends of the Carters, will perform at the invitation-only tribute service, according to The Carter Center.


Former President Carter’s participation in the events had been a day-by-day issue; he is 10 months into home hospice care. 

The Carter Center confirmed his plans to attend the Tuesday service. It will be his first public appearance since September, when he and Rosalynn Carter rode together in the Plains Peanut Festival parade, visible only through open windows in a Secret Service vehicle. Carter, who was with his wife during her final hours, did not appear publicly during any part of a public motorcade and wreath-laying ceremony Monday at Rosalynn Carter’s alma mater, Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus.

"Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished," 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."


The Carters married in 1946; their 77-plus years together makes them the longest-married presidential couple in U.S. history.

"My grandmother, in addition to being a partner to my grandfather, was a force on her own," Jason Carter, who will be among the speakers Tuesday, told the AP. 

Rosalynn Carter has been praised for a half-century of advocacy for better mental health care in America and reducing the stigma attached to mental illness. She brought attention to the tens of millions of people who work as unpaid caregivers in U.S. households, and she gained new acclaim for how integral she was to her husband’s political rise and in his terms as Georgia's governor and the 39th president.

Jason Carter, himself a former state senator and one-time Democratic nominee for governor, called her "the best politician in the family," a distinction former President Carter never disputed.

"My wife is much more political," the former president told the AP in 2021.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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