Onlookers surprised as Carter family walks behind motorcade to take former first lady to burial site

PLAINS, Ga. — As people lined the streets along the procession route to honor former First Lady Rosalynn Carter as she was laid to rest Wednesday, they got the chance to witness something special.

As the motorcade carrying Mrs. Carter made its way through downtown Plains, the family got out of their vehicles and walked down Highway 280 West toward the Carter home, where she was laid to rest.

Channel 2′s Sophia Choi was along the procession route and witnessed the spectacle, which she found out hearkened back to 1977, when the Carters became the first president and first lady to walk the inaugural parade to the White House.

[PHOTOS: Private funeral held in Plains for former First Lady Rosalynn Carter]

That route was a mile-and-a-half, and Mrs. Carter did it in heels. It’s that kind of strength that people like Myrtle Habersham remembered about the former first lady.

“I’m here because I admire the former first lady. I had an opportunity to work for her for about three years at the Rosalyn Carter Institute. She is a phenomenal lady,” Habersham said.

Along with the public, law enforcement officers lined the route, including National Park Rangers, who have a special relationship with the Carter family.


“It’s a pretty rare sight to have a living president and their families so embedded in the local community and the Park Service mission,” park ranger Scott Babinowich said.

The former first lady was buried during a private ceremony at her home in Plains.

The Carters planned to be buried next to each other under a willow tree near a pond that the former president dug by himself.

It’s land that’s cared for by Park Rangers, donated to them by the Carters in exchange for lifetime residency.

“So, it’s really a collective family. The town, the family itself, the Park Service family is feeling the same sort of emotions that those people are feeling here in Plains,” Babinowich said.

Supporters said Mrs. Carter left a mark on the world, especially in her hometown of Plains, where she was born, where she grew up, and where she returned after serving alongside her husband in the White House.

“I wanted to be here to pay tribute to someone that I respected and admire a lot,” Habersham said.