Tributes pour in for Jimmy Carter, 98, as he enters hospice care
21st February 2023

‘He’s the best of us’: Well wishes pour in for ‘American treasure and icon’ Jimmy Carter, 98, as the former President receives hospice care at home

  • The former president courted praise from both sides of the political spectrum
  • Carter’s charity said he settled on palliative care after a series of hospital visits
  • Carter was the 39th president from 1977 to 1981 and lived a life of public service

Tributes and well-wishes have flooded in for former US President Jimmy Carter who on Saturday announced he declined ongoing medical treatment and would enter palliative care at home alongside his wife Rosalynn.

Carter, the 39th President of the United States who led the nation from 1977 to 1981, courted praise from both sides of the political spectrum and was lauded for his unwavering commitment to public service well after his time in office.

Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee called him an ‘American treasure and icon’ who showed a ‘consciousness of caring’, and posted an image of a 95-year-old bruised and battered Carter helping to build homes with the NGO Habitat for Humanity.

Former Democratic senator Al Franken simply stated Carter was the ‘greatest ex-president by far’, while political commentator and comedian Jon Stewart described him as ‘one of the kindest and most thoughtful people I’ve ever had the honor of meeting. He was the best of us.’

On Sunday, US President Joe Biden also paid tribute to fellow Democrat Carter, 98, writing on Twitter: ‘We admire you for the strength and humility you have shown in difficult times.

‘May you continue your journey with grace and dignity, and God grant you peace.’

Former President Jimmy Carter reacts as his wife Rosalynn Carter speaks during a reception to celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary, July 10, 2021, in Plains, Ga

President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter dance at a White House Congressional Ball in 1977. The couple celebrated 76 years of marriage earlier this year

Texas Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee called Democrat Carter an ‘American treasure and icon’

Comedian and political commentator Jon Stewart pays respects to Carter

Former comedian and Democratic senator Al Franken said Carter was the ‘greatest ex-president by far’

Former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter sits next to his wife, former First Lady, Rosalynn Carter while having dinner at the home of friend, Jill Stuckey and being interviewed by reporters on Saturday August 04, 2018

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill visited Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter at their Plains, Georgia, home in May, 2021 

After several hospital stays, Carter has decided to spend his ‘remaining time’ at home, his nonprofit foundation The Carter Center announced Saturday.

Carter, the oldest living former president and a Nobel peace laureate, lives in Plains, Georgia, with his wife Rosalynn.

James Earl Jimmy Carter, Jr. (born 1924) 39th President of the United States from 1977 to 1981. Governor of Georgia 1971-1975

Many of the tributes paid to him via social media spoke on the quality of his character, praising his efforts to help people irrespective of his political views. 

David Axelrod, a senior advisor to Barack Obama, said of Carter’s transition to hospice care: ‘Very sad news about a remarkable man and a great American, who has done so much for the world. Thinking of President Carter and his family.’

Even pro-Trump operative and right-leaning lobbyist Roger Stone paid tribute to Carter’s life and legacy, writing: ‘Jimmy Carter was not a great President but he is a good man, a patriotic American and an honest Christian… May God bless him.’

READ MORE: Jimmy Carter, 98, will live out final days in hospice care 

Actress and activist Mia Farrow tweeted a long thread praising his life’s work, noting in particular his role with housing charity Habitat for Humanity and his efforts to improve access to healthcare in the developing world.

‘Prayers and gratitude and love for this fine person who has given the world so very much,’ she said.

Maria Shriver, the niece of John F. Kennedy and former first lady of California, said he was an example to all.

‘This man moves humanity forward every single day. He is such an inspiration,’ she said. ‘Devoted his whole life to public service. Sending him and his family my love, my respect, my support.’

And New York Times columnist Nick Kristof tweeted: ‘I’ve had the good fortune to meet many presidents, kings, Nobel Peace Prize winners and truly impressive people. 

‘Few are as truly good as Jimmy Carter, who at age 98 is now entering hospice. 

‘He leaves this planet so much better than he found it. A great, great, great man.’

Carter’s foundation, The Carter Center, founded in 1982 to pursue his vision of world diplomacy, tweeted: ‘We really appreciate all the kind words we’ve received from President Carter’s admirers.’

Tributes piled in for the former president from both sides of the political spectrum

In recent years, Carter has received various hospital treatments, including when he revealed in August 2015 that he had brain cancer and was undergoing radiation treatment – an illness he recovered from, seemingly against the odds.

During his presidency, Carter placed a commitment on human rights and social justice, enjoying a strong first two years.

But his administration hit numerous snags and he was relegated to a single term when he was beaten in 1980 by Republican challenger Ronald Reagan.

Carter said basic Christian tenets such as justice and love served as the bedrock of his presidency, and he taught Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist, his church in Plains, well into his 90s.

He maintained a reputation as a good human being eager to live a life of service to others. At age 93 he took a rare flight on a commercial jet and spent several minutes greeting everybody and shaking hands with passengers, stopping to talk to each of them.

And at age 95 he was seen with power tools helping to build houses for charity organisation Habitat for Humanity, despite having suffered a recent fall and sporting several lacerations and bruises on his arms and face. 

Former President Jimmy Carter works on a house as part of the Habitat for Humanity Carter Work Project in Northeast Washington, on October 4, 2010

Rosalynn Carter and Jimmy Carter in 1976

Rosalynn Carter and Jimmy Carter watch the statewide results of the 1970 governor elections come in

Jimmy Carter, who on Saturday was revealed to be entering hospice care, is seen during his 1977-81 presidency, protected by the Secret Service

Jimmy Carter waves before the crowd on the floor of the Democratic Convention of 1980

95-year-old Jimmy Carter is seen helping to build houses despite having suffered significant injuries

Amid the flood of tributes to Carter on social media, dozens of well-wishers made the pilgrimage to The Carter Center headquarters in Atlanta on Sunday as prayers and memories of the former president’s legacy were offered up at his small Baptist church in Plains, Georgia.

Among those paying homage was his niece, who noted the 39th president’s years of service in an emotional address at Maranatha Baptist Church, where Carter taught Sunday school for decades.

‘I just want to read one of Uncle Jimmy’s quotes,’ Kim Fuller said during the Sunday school morning service, adding: ‘Oh, this is going to be really hard.’

She referenced this quote from Carter: ‘I have one life and one chance to make it count for something. I’m free to choose that something. My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I can, whenever I can, for as long as I can.’

‘Maybe if we think about it, maybe it’s time to pass the baton,’ Fuller said before leading those gathered in prayer. 

‘Who picks it up, I have no clue. I don’t know. Because this baton’s going to be a really big one.’

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