Jimmy Carter is 94 years old and still possesses an insatiable desire to improve the world he loves so much. The late President George H.W. Bush (formerly the oldest president) passed away in November at 94 years, 171 days old. In the waning days of March, Carter turned 94 years, 172 days old, officially becoming the president who has lived the longest in American history. And the wheels are still turning. Carter’s infallible identity as an environmentalist and humanitarian was the trademark of his presidency and post-presidency. He made the national highway speed limit 55 M.P.H. to reduce carbon emissions. From the comfort of the White House, he famously wore a sweater and sat next to a roaring fireplace as he discussed with the Nation his commitment to his energy policies, convincing them that they too can turn down their thermostats. He and his wife Rosalynn founded the Carter Center, a headquarters for the advancement of human rights. Lifelong philanthropists, Carter and Rosalynn (married for over 70 years) continue to exist as cornerstones for the greater good.
In June of 2018, Carter brought a medical clinic to the tiny Georgia town of Plains, which also happens to be his hometown. Without a practicing physician for nearly four months after their medical facility closed in March 2018, the residents had to commute long distances even for a routine checkup. But Carter partnered with the Mercer University School of Medicine to bring medicine back to the rural town.
In February of 2017, Carter leased out 10 acres of his own property in Plains to be used as a solar farm for the town. The panels in these acres will be sufficient to produce 55 million kilowatt hours of clean energy over the course of the next 25 years. The solar farm will supply about 50% of the town’s energy, or the rough equivalent of burning 3,600 tons of coal per year. Carter has spearheaded the development of renewable energy strategies for decades, and his advanced age has done nothing to stop him.
In 2015, Carter was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma. Despite his ongoing treatments, Carter traveled to Memphis, Tennessee to build a house with Habitat for Humanity for a 25-year-old single mom named Arlicia Gilliams. Gilliams did her part by contributing 350 hours of “sweat equity” into helping build the home, and said she was ecstatic to have the help of the former president. In December 2015 after a number of successful immunotherapy treatments, Carter announced that he was cancer-free.
The cornucopia of complex domestic and global issues that a president deals with on a daily basis is overwhelming. This is no secret. Presidents tend to age at an alarming rate during the years in which they serve. Take these photos of President Lincoln, the first and last portrait photos taken of him during his presidency. The difference is striking. To hold the prestigious title of President of the United States is something that is prone to take years off of your life. There is a reason that no president has ever reached the centennial mark of 100 years old. To Jimmy Carter, the 39th and now oldest president of the United States who lives both a vigorous and altruistic life, We Salute You.