Rosalynn Carter’s hometown prepares final farewell

George McAfee of Plains picks up trashes around downtown Plains ahead of Wednesday’s first lady Rosalynn Carter funeral events, Tuesday, November 28, 2023, in Plains. (Hyosub Shin /



George McAfee of Plains picks up trashes around downtown Plains ahead of Wednesday’s first lady Rosalynn Carter funeral events, Tuesday, November 28, 2023, in Plains. (Hyosub Shin /

PLAINS — In this town that looks like something out of a quaint movie, where Main Street consists of a handful of stores, and the former train depot has been turned into a museum, there’s a still silence.

It’s almost as if the town itself knows it will bid farewell to one of its most beloved citizens in a few hours.

Officials have started to put up metal barricades on the sides of Highway 280, the main thoroughfare in Plains. Some side streets are lined with ribbons that say “Rosalynn Carter.”

A funeral for former first lady Rosalynn Carter, wife of former President Jimmy Carter, will take place Wednesday at Maranatha Baptist Church at 11 a.m. The family will then have a private interment at the Carters’ home. She died Nov. 19 at the age of 96.

Funeral information, how to watch via livestream

Some in this rural town of a bit more than 500 residents aren’t ready for life without her.

“It’s going to be a tremendous loss,” said Tim Buchanan, who manages the Buffalo Cafe on Main Street. “She’s got her hands on everything in this town. The idea that when (Jimmy Carter) is gone, I think their legacy will be ‘Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter.’ It won’t be just Jimmy Carter. She was there holding his hand the whole way.”

“She was so humble,” Buchanan added. “She wouldn’t take a lot of accolades or applause. In fact, there was nothing in this town named after her until we changed the street she grew up on about three years ago to Rosalynn Carter Trail.”

There are many more places named after Jimmy Carter in Plains, including the Jimmy Carter National Historical Park. Carter, 99, entered home hospice care in February.

As federal and state officials prepared to secure Wednesday’s events, a group of people was working behind the scenes to make sure they are well fed. The Georgia Baptist Mission Board is a volunteer organization that has come to prepare meals for those working on the ground.

“This was what we felt like in addition to, to honor the office of the presidency and former first lady ... what we could do to support the folks that are here,” said feeding ministry coordinator David Reynolds, whose group typically provides help after natural disasters.

Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter both grew up in Plains. They later lived in the White House and traveled around the world, much of it with the Carter Center, the Atlanta-based nonprofit they founded in 1982 to promote democracy and fight diseases.

But they still spent most of their lives in their hometown, much of it in the modest ranch house they built in 1961.

Laura Neuman, a peace programs adviser at the Carter Center, worked and traveled with the former first couple over many years.

“We loved when (Rosalynn) traveled with President Carter because he was always so much happier when she was around,” said Neuman.

During a typical month, Neuman says the Carters in their post-White House years would spend a week at the Carter Center, another week traveling and two weeks in Plains.

“This was so much who they are, and they’re so proud of their community,” Neuman said. “And likewise, it’s just clear everybody here is so proud of them.”

A Christmas tree with a tribute to former first lady Rosalynn Carter in Plains, Georgia on Monday, Nov. 27.

Credit: Mirtha Donastorg

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Credit: Mirtha Donastorg