This week, Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan published a beautiful piece in the Washington Post about former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter that’s extensive, informative and heartwarming. Below are some excerpts along with information from personal study. But for those who admire the Carters, the full Washington Post story is a must read.
Both Jimmy and Rosalynn were born, met and were married in Plains, Georgia. After leaving the White House, Mr. Carter now 93, and Mrs. Carter now 91, returned to their hometown located about 150 miles south of Atlanta with a population of about 700. In fact:
Jimmy Carter is the only president in the modern era to return full-time to the house he lived in before he entered politics — a two-bedroom rancher assessed at $167,000, less than the value of the armored Secret Service vehicles parked outside.
The couple have maintained healthy, frugal and simple lives while giving people around the world gifts like The Carter Center and Habitat for Humanity where they build homes with volunteers—and change lives.
The WaPo writers point out that during their interview, Mr. Carter was finishing a meal from a paper plate—just a regular guy. He tells WaPo it was never his ambition to be rich. He’s the only president in recent times who does not take advantage of his White House days to make tens of millions giving speeches or being on corporate boards. He doesn’t blame those who do—it’s just not how he rolls.
Now that doesn’t mean he doesn’t know how to become rich. Unlike the current president, Mr. Carter gave up control of his successful peanut farm to avoid any conflicts of interest during his presidency. So how does he stay afloat?
Carter decided that his income would come from writing, and he has written 33 books, about his life and career, his faith, Middle East peace, women’s rights, aging, fishing, woodworking, even a children’s book written with his daughter, Amy Carter, called “The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer.
With book income and the $210,700 annual pension all former presidents receive, the Carters live comfortably. But his books have never fetched the massive sums commanded by more recent presidents.
WaPo adds Carter has been an ex-president for 37 years—longer than any other president in history.
He teaches Sunday school at Marantha Baptist Church also in Plains. The church is where he told one class in 2015 that he was cancer-free after battling brain and liver cancer six months earlier. WaPo also reports Jimmy Carter just taught his 800th class. Anyone who can make the trip to Plains and sit in his Sunday school class can usually get a photo with the former President and Mrs. Carter, if she’s there. For those who can’t fit inside church, because there are often lines of visitors that start the night before, they can watch the class on a screen in the sanctuary and come over for a photo after.
That’s one of the ways he still makes himself accessible to the people. One thing we can count on is that Mr. Carter teaches the same way—with or without a crowd.
“He doesn’t liked big shots, and he doesn’t think he’s a big shot,” said Gerald Rafshoon, who was Carter’s White House communications director.
As president, Jimmy Carter caused lots of talk when did unconventional things like carry his own suitcase onto Air Force 1 and refuse to have “Hail to the Chief” played for him. He costs the American taxpayers less than half of what’s paid to the last four presidents. He doesn’t even have federal retirement health benefits, because he worked for the federal government for less than five years. He receives his health benefits through Emory University where he has taught for 36 years.
The Carters give back to their small community. About 70,000 people visit Plains per year, because of them, which brings about $4 million into the county’s economy says WaPo. He also recently built solar panels in Plains that’s fueling some of the community and is building a much needed health clinic.
After his one term in office, from 1977 to 1981, the 39th president was often remembered for “long lines at gas stations and the Iran hostage crisis.” But he was so much more. President Carter kept the peace and supported human rights. During the Camp David accords, he facilitated a historic peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, which is still in effect four decades later. He also worked to normalize relations with China and received a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 (of which many felt was long overdue).
Always telling the truth was a promise he made and has kept—starkly different from Donald Trump who is caught in lies every single day. Usually, Mr. Carter doesn’t comment much on Trump, but in this interview he lets lose.
“I think [Trump] is a disaster in human rights and taking care of people and treating people equal.”
Mrs. Carter was outraged and very vocal during the worst of the current border tragedies after learning children were being literally torn from the arms of their parents and left to wonder where their parents had gone with torment that could only be matched by their parent’s horror of not knowing what was happening to their children. Mrs. Carter believes Trump’s lying “hurts everything.”
As for American politics, the 39thpresident calls Citizens United, a Supreme Court decision that allows our political system to go “from a democracy to an oligarchy.” He calls it “legal bribery.”
Mr. Carter does believe truth and morals will return to America, but says it may not be in his lifetime.
Speaking of lifetimes, when the Carters were asked if there was anything they wanted, but don’t have, Jimmy says, “I can’t think of anything,” then looks at Rosalynn as if to pose the same question . She replies there’s noting they need, “I’m happy.”
On most days, Mr. Carter retreats to his space to write, reflect, paint and build furniture. Rosalynn, who writes as well, does her Tai Chi and meditates. The Carters stay active in other ways. They to do things like build hope, fight disease, wage peace, watch the Atlanta Braves or Law and Order and eat pancakes.
You can personally write to the Honorable Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter via The Carter Center. They’ve been known to personally write back. The mailing address is:
The Carter Center
453 Freedom Parkway
Atlanta, GA 30307
There’s also a Facebook page you can visit :
Honoring Jimmy Carter
The page was set up to help pay tribute to the former president, and continues to grow with now over 240k members. You can find political and humanitarian stories and memes about President Carter, as well as enjoy a safe and positive place to share your comments and experiences regarding a great man. To visit/like “Honoring Jimmy Carter” click HERE.
Every day Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter show us what real goodness, faith and integrity look like. Every day they remind us that if we follow their lead we’ll one day leave this world a better place.
Special thanks to Mary Jordan and Kevin Sullivan who published their story in the Washington Post where you can read the full story here. They’re’s so much more to learn about the Carters.
Read more about Jimmy Carter here: