Jimmy Carter, 3 months into hospice, is aware of tributes, enjoying ice cream

  • Motorists on Tuesday pass a sign dedicated to former President Jimmy Carter along Jimmy Carter Blvd. in Norcross, Ga. (AP Photo/Alex Slitz)

NORCROSS, Ga. — Three months after entering end-of-life care at home, former President Jimmy Carter remains in good spirits as he visits with family, follows public discussion of his legacy and receives updates on The Carter Center’s humanitarian work around the world, his grandson says. He’s even enjoying regular servings of ice cream.

“They’re just meeting with family right now, but they’re doing it in the best possible way: the two of them together at home,” Jason Carter said of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, now 98 and 95 years old.


“They’ve been together 70-plus years. They also know that they’re not in charge,” the younger Carter said Tuesday in a brief interview. “Their faith is really grounding in this moment. In that way, it’s as good as it can be.”

The longest-lived U.S. president, Jimmy Carter announced in February that after a series of brief hospital stays, he would forgo further medical intervention and spend the remainder of his life in the same modest, one-story house in Plains where they lived when he was first elected to the state Senate in 1962. No illness was disclosed.

The hospice care announcement prompted ongoing tributes and media attention on his 1977-81 presidency and the global humanitarian work the couple has done since co-founding The Carter Center in 1982.

“That’s been one of the blessings of the last couple of months,” Jason Carter said after speaking Tuesday at an event honoring his grandfather. “He is certainly getting to see the outpouring and it’s been gratifying to him for sure.”

The former president also gets updates on The Carter Center’s Guinea worm eradication program, launched in the mid-1980s when millions of people suffered from the parasite spread by unclean drinking water. Last year, there were fewer than two dozen cases worldwide.

And in less serious moments, he also continues to enjoy peanut butter ice cream, his preferred flavor, in keeping with his political brand as a peanut farmer, his grandson said.

Andrew Young, who served as Carter’s U.N. Ambassador, told the AP that he too visited the Carters “a few weeks back” and was “very pleased we could laugh and joke about old times.”

Young and Jason Carter joined other friends and admirers Tuesday at a celebration of the former president along Jimmy Carter Boulevard in suburban Norcross, just northeast of Atlanta. Young said the setting — in one of the most racially and ethnically diverse suburban swaths in America — reflected the former president’s broader legacy as someone who pursued peace, conflict resolution and racial equity.

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