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AP PHOTOS: Rosalynn Carter’s farewell tracing her 96 years from Plains to the world and back

PLAINS, Ga. (AP) — Former U.S. first lady Rosalynn Carter was memorialized this week with three days of public ceremonies and tributes that spanned the breadth of her long life, from her roots in Plains, Georgia, to the White House and across the world through four decades of work as a global humanitarian.

Associated Press photojournalists documented the tributes along the way.

They captured the pageantry that comes with funerals for a White House occupant, as well as the hometown adoration for a first lady who lived more than 80 of her 96 years in the same town where she was born. They captured the services that reflected her deeply held Christian faith, which her minister said she always “took outside the walls” of the church. And they reflected the grief of her 99-year-old husband, Jimmy Carter. The 39th president left home hospice care to attend public remembrances in Atlanta and Plains, visibly diminished and frail but determined to lead the nation in saying goodbye to his wife of more than 77 years.

Tributes began Monday in Americus, Georgia, with a wreath-laying ceremony on the campus of Georgia Southwestern State University. That’s where Rosalynn Carter graduated in 1946 and, after her tenure as first lady, founded the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers to advocate for millions of Americans taking care of family members and others without adequate support.

She lay in repose Monday at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library, a reflection of their term in Washington from 1977 to 1981, when she established herself as the most politically active first lady since Eleanor Roosevelt. Her husband spent the night steps away at The Carter Center, which they co-founded in 1982 to advocate for democracy, resolve conflict and eradicate disease in the developing nations — and for her to continue what became a half-century of advocating for better mental health treatment in America.

On Tuesday, she was honored in Atlanta at a ceremony that brought together every living U.S. first lady, President Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton. They joined the Carter family, dozens of Secret Service agents and 1,000-plus other mourners for a service replete with a symphony chorus, honor guards and a grand organ.

In Plains, her intimate hometown funeral was held Wednesday at her beloved Maranatha Baptist Church, which the Carters joined when they returned to Georgia after his 1980 presidential defeat. Her family, including Jimmy, wore leis. It was a tribute to how she adored her time in Hawaii during her husband’s Navy years and how she loved learning to hula dance while there; her Secret Service code name was “Dancer.”

In a slow-moving motorcade, she was escorted one final time through Plains, past the high school where she was valedictorian during World War II, through the commercial district where she became Jimmy Carter’s indispensable partner in the peanut business, past the old train depot where she helped run his 1976 presidential campaign.

She was buried in a private ceremony on the family property, in view of the front porch of the home they built before Carter’s first political campaign in 1962.

— Associated Press national politics reporter Bill Barrow


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