Presidents and first ladies, past to present, will honor Rosalynn Carter

From Bill Clinton to Melania Trump: Here’s who plans to attend Carter’s memorial service in Atlanta
The casket of former first lady Rosalynn Carter is covered in flowers in the hearse outside the Rosalynn Carter Health & Human Services complex at Georgia Southwestern State University, Monday, November 27, 2023, in Americus. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

The casket of former first lady Rosalynn Carter is covered in flowers in the hearse outside the Rosalynn Carter Health & Human Services complex at Georgia Southwestern State University, Monday, November 27, 2023, in Americus. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

President Joe Biden and his wife Jill are expected to be joined by former President Bill Clinton and several former first ladies at Tuesday’s memorial service for Rosalynn Carter in Atlanta.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton’s wife, also is among those expected to pay tribute in person at a ceremony for Mrs. Carter, the former first lady who died Nov. 19.

Former first ladies Melania Trump, Michelle Obama and Laura Bush, along with Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, also are expected to attend the ceremony at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church on Emory University’s campus.

Other expected attendees include Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and first lady Marty Kemp, and Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens, according to the Carter Center, the nonprofit founded by Rosalynn and former President Jimmy Carter.

How to watch: AJC live video page

Wednesday, a more private service will be held in Plains, followed by the burial.

At Tuesday’s event in Atlanta, members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will provide gathering music, including some of Rosalynn Carter’s most beloved tunes and an arrangement by legendary ASO conductor Robert Shaw and Alice Parker.

Pianist David Osborne, long a favorite of the Carters, will play a medley of hymns as a prelude to the service. The ceremony will include musical performances by the ASO Chamber Chorus and family friends Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.

The Rev. Mark Westmoreland, pastor of Glenn Memorial, will give the call to worship and invocation, followed by opening remarks by Pastor Tony Lowden, the Carters’ personal pastor.

The Carters’ son, James Earl “Chip” Carter III, will welcome attendees and daughter Amy Carter will present a reading. One grandson and three of Rosalynn Carter’s great-grandchildren will read Scripture passages, and tributes will be delivered by longtime aide and friend Kathryn Cade, journalist Judy Woodruff and grandson Jason Carter.

Cade has been close to Rosalynn Carter for nearly four decades, both professionally and as a friend. Cade worked with Rosalynn during Carter’s presidential campaign, and then in the White House, on special projects for the first lady.

Woodruff is best known as a national journalist and anchor, but she began her five-decade news career as an Atlanta television reporter for WAGA, now Fox 5 Atlanta, covering then-Gov. Jimmy Carter. She joined NBC as an Atlanta-based reporter covering Carter’s campaign for president and was the NBC White House reporter during Carter’s presidency. The former managing editor and anchor of the PBS NewsHour is also a former journalist at CNN. When Woodruff was inducted into the Atlanta Press Club Hall of Fame in 2016, she was introduced by Rosalynn Carter.

The service will close with Lowden’s benediction and a song by the ASO Chamber Chorus. Osborne will play a recessional song, followed by a postlude by organist Norman Mackenzie and the ASO Brass Quartet.

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