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Jimmy Carter makes rare appearance with presidents for wife's memorial

Former US President Jimmy Carter made a rare public appearance at a memorial service for his wife Rosalynn, who passed away.

Former US President Jimmy Carter, 99, made a rare public appearance Tuesday to join his successors Joe Biden and Bill Clinton and all five living first ladies at the memorial service for his beloved wife Rosalynn. The tribute service was held at Glenn Memorial Church in Atlanta, Georgia on November 28, 2023. Rosalynn Carter passed away on November 19, aged 96, just two days after joining her husband in hospice care at their house in Plains, Georgia.

A frail-looking Carter briefly left hospice care to attend the service at a church in Atlanta, arriving in a wheelchair with a blanket on his lap that was embroidered with a picture of his wife's face. He did not speak, but the couple's children and grandchildren celebrated the "life well lived" of Rosalynn Carter, a humanitarian and mental health advocate who redefined the role of the modern First Lady. Their son James "Chip" Carter, kissed his father on the head and laid his hand on his mother's flower-covered coffin, while their daughter Amy Lynn Carter read out a love letter her father wrote to her mother while he was in the US navy three quarters of a century ago.

Biden and First Lady Jill Biden had a "special moment with President Carter" before the service, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Air Force One. The service included her favorite music, including a performance of the John Lennon song "Imagine" by husband-and-wife US country music stars Tricia Yearwood and Garth Brooks. The turnout showed the high regard in which Rosalynn Carter was held in the United States.

The more private funeral on Wednesday in Plains will inevitably shift attention to the health of Jimmy Carter, who is the oldest living US ex-president in US history and moved into hospice care 10 months ago. Presidential funeral services typically are attended by all living presidents -- Carter attended the Washington memorial for George W. Bush in 2018 -- providing a moment for national unity. Throughout Jimmy Carter's long political career, his wife was at the heart of his campaigns. And during the 1977 to 1981 White House term, Rosalynn Carter worked to raise the status of the first lady's office, even sitting in on cabinet meetings. When she died, Jimmy Carter said in a statement that she'd been "my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished."

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