Jimmy Carter

Peter Catesby Peter Cates

Jimmy Carter

The 39th President Jimmy Carter has achieved a few longevity records .

First, he is the oldest living one at 99.

Secondly, he has lived the longest of any President.

Thirdly, since his defeat for re-election in 1980 by Reagan, he has been out of office the longest.

Finally, he and his wife Rosalynn were married the longest of any presidential couple, lasting from 1946 to her death just a few hours ago (I am writing this Sunday evening, November 19, 2023), and surpassing by a few years that of George and Barbara Bush.

Novelist/journalist Norman Mailer wrote a fascinating New York Times magazine profile of Carter during his 1976 campaign and expressed awe at the candidate’s phenomenally encyclopedic memory, his grasp of the complexities of domestic and foreign problems and his above average, very focused interest in them (Mailer cited German novelist Thomas Mann’s statement- “Only the exhaustive is truly interesting.”).

Mailer also mentioned Carter’s younger brother Billy (1937-1988), a “good old boy” with a pleasant personality but not somebody to cross.

A photo of the newly-elected president in November 1976, that sticks in the memory is one of the two brothers and a few friends having beers at Billy’s gas station in their hometown of Plains, Georgia, and dressed in work shirts and blue jeans – one didn’t see the armies of secret service personnel surrounding the village.

For me, the most distinguished achievement of Jimmy Carter’s presidency was as a host and mediator at Camp David when former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin negotiated a peace between the two countries, that pretty well ended in 1981 when Sadat was assassinated.

A setback in his administration was the Middle Eastern oil crisis in which gas prices went up, supplies became limited and long lines of cars resulted at gas pumps across the country.

With respect to our Pine Tree State, Carter appointed former Governor Kenneth Curtis as Ambassador to Canada and former Senator Edmund Muskie as Secretary of State, both men unfortunately serving terms of brief duration. He also came to Bangor for one of his town meetings and invited one of the questioners, an elementary school teacher, to bring her class to the White House for a visit with him and ten-year-old daughter Amy.

Information on Carter’s years in the White House abounds in libraries and on the Internet.

Prior to 1976, Jimmy Carter was a successful peanut farmer in Plains and was elected Governor of Georgia in 1971 for one term.

His post-presidential years have been distinguished by him with a nail apron and level building houses for Habitat for Humanity .

All three of his siblings died from pancreatic cancer in their 50s.


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