Presidential Longevity: Jimmy Carter

jimmyandrosalynncarter
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter in 2016.

As of today, Jimmy Carter has been a retired President of the United States for 40 years. His post-presidency is longer than any other (the previous record holder was Herbert Hoover, who died in 1964, 31 years after leaving the office). New president Joe Biden did say he’d spoken with Carter last night, but today’s was the first inauguration Carter has missed since Richard Nixon’s in 1972. Carter was inaugurated in 1976, and attended every one thereafter.

Carter is truly a man from another era, so long retired from the presidency that he is a part of history.

There is only one serving Senator who was in office when Carter was president: Vermont’s Patrick Leahy took his seat in the Senate on January 3, 1975, when he was 34 years old. Two current members of the Senate were born during Jimmy Carter’s administration, and one—Jon Ossoff of Georgia, who was sworn in today—was born six years after Carter left office.

There is also only one serving Representative who was in office when Carter was president: Alaska’s Don Young, who joined the House on March 6, 1973. The 87-year-old Young is the oldest and longest-serving member of Congress, though he is nine years younger than Carter. Thirty-one members of the House of Representatives were born after Carter left office.

The senior member of the Supreme Court is Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, who joined the Court on October 23, 1991, more than ten years after Carter retired. (Carter is the only president to serve a full term without making an appointment to the Court.)

Of the 20 people who served in Carter’s Cabinet, he has outlived 13 of them. Those still surviving include W. Michael Blumenthal (Secretary of the Treasury, 1977-79), Benjamin Civiletti (Attorney General, 1979-81), Ray Marshall (Labor, 1977-81), Joseph A. Califano, Jr. (HEW, 1977-79), Maurice Landrieu (HUD, 1979-81), Neil Goldschmidt (Transportation, 1979-81), and Charles Duncan, Jr. (Energy, 1979-81).

Born October 1, 1924, Jimmy Carter is the longest-lived President (he eclipsed George H.W. Bush’s record in March 2019). His wife, Rosalynn, was born August 18, 1927, and #3 on the list of longest-lived First Ladies (Bess Truman lived 97 years 247 days; Lady Bird Johnson was 94 years 201 days old when she died).

Jimmy and Rosalynn married on July 7, 1946, so they are the longest-married Presidential couple (they eclipsed the record set by George and Barbara Bush, which was 73 years 101 days).

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