Admirers flock to Plains from all over the country to honor Jimmy Carter

Well-wishers are visiting President Jimmy Carter's hometown of Plains, Georgia as he enters hospice care.
Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 9:50 PM EST
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PLAINS, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - People are flocking to Plains, Georgia from far and wide to honor the contributions of the nation’s 39th President.

There’s not a corner you can turn down in Plains without seeing a nod to Jimmy Carter and his family. There’s the boyhood farm where he grew up, now a national park; the gated and guarded home he and his wife Rosalynn built in 1961 and have lived in ever since; there’s the tennis court-sized sign proclaiming Plains as the birthplace of the nation’s 39th president that welcomes people into town.

It’s hard to miss, and many seek out the town of only a few hundred for those exact reasons. With news that Carter is entering hospice care at 98 years old, these sites are taking on new significance.

“We were planning on just having, you know, a lazy weekend, college friends hanging out letting our kids get together and then that news broke,” said Jennifer Pierson, an Americus resident who came with her friend Sarah Shewbridge and their families to Carter’s boyhood farm just outside of town. “That’s a wonderful legacy to leave, is to show people don’t just wish you could help, help. Get up and do something.”

The town brimmed with people on Presidents Day seeking more knowledge on the humble life of Jimmy Carter before and after the White House. Almost all of them were spent right in Plains.

“I think he was just such a hometown kind of guy. And even when he was president, he stayed that way,” said Mary Kraft, visiting from Minnesota.

“When you think about the person, he and his wife, all the contributions they have made and continue to make because it’s very, very far reaching, what’s to be sad about?” said Shirley Paulk, visiting from Atlanta. “He’s 98, he has given a lot. Why should we be sad he’s done a lot for us. We all have benefited whether we agree with the politics or not.”

Many had their trips planned to Plains before they heard the news of Carter’s declining health. For some, like Jennifer Nichols, who was stopping by Plains on a tour of southern Civil Rights landmarks for her birthday, the news hit close to home.

“My father fought a similar health battle, as Jimmy Carter has,” she said through tears. “And so my feelings are with the family, and what they’re going through right now.”

“If people don’t get anything else from Jimmy Carter from his presidency, hopefully they get something from his life that, you know, don’t ever give up on what you want to do with your life,” said Pierson. “Because you can do anything, you can be a small little kid like he was from a small, small town and grow up to be the president. And then after his presidency, look at all the amazing things he’s done. So he’s definitely a role model.”