Jimmy Carter, oldest-ever former president, quietly marks his 97th birthday

Former President Carter
President Carter teaches Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church in November 2019.
(John Amis / Associated Press)

Jimmy Carter, the oldest former president in U.S. history, will quietly mark his 97th birthday at home in southwest Georgia on Friday, an aide said.

Slowed by age in recent years and keeping a low profile during the COVID-19 pandemic, Carter does not plan on any public appearances, his press secretary, Deanna Congelio, said at the Carter Center in Atlanta.

Workers at the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, Ga., recorded greetings for the former president, and members of the public can sign an online birthday card at


Dozens sent early birthday greetings, and many didn’t even mention Carter’s 1977-81 presidency. Instead, they said they were inspired by Carter’s post-presidential life, which has included volunteer work, authorship of multiple books, advocacy for justice and years of teaching Sunday school.

Jimmy Carter was a shrewd and sometimes ruthless politician until he was elected president. Then he changed his style.

June 22, 2021

“We love you for your honesty, consistency and for being so articulate,” said one message. Many shared photos of themselves with Carter and his wife, Rosalynn. The couple celebrated 75 years of marriage in July.

The former president was diagnosed with melanoma that had spread to his liver and brain in 2015, but he underwent treatment and announced that he was cancer-free four months later. He has had a string of falls, including one that left him with a broken pelvis in October 2019, and has used a walker when in public most recently.

President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited the Carters at their home in April. “We sat and talked about the old days,” Biden said of his fellow Democrat.

A quiet birthday could be all the more somber as the family prepares for the funeral of Carter’s daughter-in-law Annette Davis Carter, the longtime wife of Jeff Carter, in Plains on Saturday. She died earlier this month at the age of 68.

Annette Carter’s service will be held at Maranatha Baptist Church, which the former president helped found and where the pastor regularly asks members to pray for the Carters.