Carter's Hometown Happy With Burial Plan - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

1/10/07-Plains, GA

Carter's Hometown Happy With Burial Plan

(AP) - Folks in Plains were just delighted - in a respectfully restrained way - when Jimmy Carter mentioned in a TV interview a few weeks ago that he wants to be buried in his front yard in his hometown, where the neighbors still refer to the former president simply as "Jimmy."

Very little was known about Carter's funeral plans until then, and many in this little peanut-growing town of 640 people believe his decision to be laid to rest here rather than 120 miles away in Atlanta, home of his presidential library, or in Arlington National Cemetery (Carter served in the Navy) will help maintain the prosperity he brought to Plains when he first ran for the White House in 1976.

"He knows this will make Plains a tourist attraction for eternity," said Jill Stuckey, who owns the Plains Bed & Breakfast, a half-block from the simple ranch-style home where the 82-year-old Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, live.

In a live C-SPAN2 interview on Dec. 3, Carter said: "Plains is special to us. I could be buried in Arlington Cemetery or wherever I want, but my wife was born here and I was born here."

As a child, Carter briefly lived next door to Rosalynn, and the two began dating in 1945. The couple married the next year.

"Plains is where our hearts have always been," he said.

While tackling various international issues since leaving the White House, Carter also has worked tirelessly to keep his hometown vital

Through his efforts, parts of Plains and his boyhood home in nearby Archery are now part of the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site, which is operated by the National Park Service and attracts more than 85,000 visitors annually. Thousands also flock to Plains to attend Carter's Sunday school classes, and he teaches to a packed room.

The Carters have donated their home - which they built in 1961 - and the surrounding 11 acres to the Park Service with plans to make it part of the historic site after their deaths.

Carter credits Plains with helping shape his values. Many of his neighbors knew him back when he was just a peanut farmer, before he won a seat in the Georgia Senate, got elected governor and became the 39th president.

Carter's announcement of his burial plans came as no surprise to those close to him.

"He's been saying this for quite a while in conversations," said Bobby Salter, who runs a candy, nut and souvenir store known as Plain Peanuts along the town's main street. "He just made it official."

In the C-SPAN2 interview, Carter said there are also plans for a Washington funeral and a viewing of his body in Atlanta, where he and his wife founded the Carter Center to promote human rights and improve the quality of life in the Third World.

The Carter Center has repeatedly refused to disclose any details of Carter's funeral plans, and the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, which is responsible for administering presidential funerals, has not responded to requests by The Associated Press seeking that information.

In Plains, Carter and his wife helped launch a historic inn and antiques mall, and he pushed for a tourist train that brings visitors to town. The train has given the area an economic boost estimated at $2 million.

Ken Anderson and his wife, Joy, recently strolled past shops on Plains' main street, hoping to catch a glimpse of Carter.

"We love history," said Anderson, a town court judge in Schererville, Ind., and a board member of the Abraham Lincoln Association, which honors the 16th president.

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