Town delighted to be Carter's eternal home

Published Jan. 11, 2007

Folks in Plains were just delighted - in a respectfully restrained way - when Jimmy Carter mentioned in an interview a few weeks ago that he wants to be buried in his front yard in his hometown.

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 Carter, 82, lives with his wife, Rosalynn, 79.

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."

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.

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