An Intimate Farewell to Rosalynn Carter
Close family and friends say final goodbye to their first lady.
Family and friends said a final goodbye to humanitarian advocate Rosalynn Carter in an intimate gathering at the Marantha Baptist Church in the town where she and husband of 77 years, President Jimmy Carter, were born.
The former first lady died in her home in Plains, Georgia, on Nov. 19, two days after it was announced that she entered hospice care and six months after she was diagnosed with dementia. Her husband, the 39th president of the United States, watched silently as he sat in a wheelchair dressed in a suite and tie. He is 99 years old and entered hospice care in February.
Family members eulogized Rosalynn Carter on this last day of a three-day series of ceremonies in south Georgia and Atlanta that included a memorial service on Tuesday that drew sitting and past presidents and all the living first ladies.
“First lady. That is who she was,” says Marantha Pastor Tony Lowden who eulogized her in Wednesday’s funeral service. Lowden urged family members and friends in attendance — some of whom wore leis in honor of Rosalynn Carter’s hula dance experience while stationed in Honolulu — not to mourn the first lady, but to celebrate her life and to remember her and comfort one another.
“We are here to continue the mantle,” Lowden says.
Jack Carter called his mother a true partner on equal footing with his father. He went on to credit the attendance of the presidents and first ladies to what Rosalynn Carter had learned by raising her boys and “what she taught [his] father.”
Josh Carter remarked on his grandmother’s tenacity through moments of great elation and those of national rejection like when Republican candidate Ronald Reagan ousted Jimmy Carter in the 1980 presidential election. Josh Carter says his grandmother thought the best part of her life was over. But then came The Carter Center. He went on to recall growing up watching The Carter Center mature and watching his grandparents tackle humanitarian problems “so grand” that they seemed insurmountable.
“She knew that was the best part of her life,” he says.
Rosalynn Carter embodied what Lowden called “a virtuous woman” in everything she pursued as a mental health, caregiving, women’s rights and humanitarian advocate.
Lowden closed the service by challenging family members, friends and all of those listening how they would respond to the void left behind by the “virtuous” Rosalynn Carter.
“Her care and concern for others around her defined her. How are you going to see the next day of her legacy?” Lowden asks, suggesting that the women around the country draw from the ‘Rosalynn’ in them to “look at a baby from Sudan and say, ‘that’s my baby’ … or to look at the Boys and Girls Club and say ‘those are my children, too.’”
After the funeral, according to the Associated Press, the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren walked alongside the SUV carrying Jimmy Carter as Rosalynn Carter was taken for the last time through their hometown. Her burial site, according to the AP, is within view of the front porch where Jimmy Carter will return home.
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