Gloria C. Spann, sister of Jimmy Carter, dies of pancreatic cancer

Credit: COPY

Credit: COPY

Published March 6, 1990

Gloria Carter Spann of Plains, the last surviving sibling of former President Jimmy Carter, died of cancer at 1:25 a.m. Monday at Sumter Regional Hospital in Americus. She was 63.

Mrs. Spann's pancreatic cancer had been diagnosed in December.

The same disease killed her father, James Earl Carter Sr., in 1953; her sister, Ruth Carter Stapleton, in September 1983; and her brother, Billy Carter, in 1988.

In addition, pancreatic cancer was a contributing factor in the death of Mrs. Spann's mother, Lillian Gordy Carter, in October 1983.

Former President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, were at Mrs. Spann's side when she died, according to a hospital spokesperson.

A graveside service for Mrs. Spann is planned at Lebanon Cemetery here.

Gloria Spann was the second of the four Carter children, two years younger than Jimmy, three years older than Ruth and 15 years older than Billy.

Mrs. Spann was a motorcyclist. She and her husband, Walter Spann, a farmer, often took cross-country motorcycle trips. She made handpainted denim jackets for motorcycle clubs, according to a 1976 newspaper article. In 1982, Mrs. Spann suffered a broken leg in a motorcycle accident near Grafton, W.Va.

In one of his best-known wisecracking remarks, Mrs. Spann's brother Billy once said during Jimmy's presidential campaign:

"I got a mother who went into the Peace Corps at the age of 68; I got a sister who's a Holy Roller preacher; I got another sister who rides motorcycles and wears helmets; and I got a brother who thinks he's going to be president of the United States. I'm the only sane one in the family."

The Spanns also enjoyed water-and snow-skiing and fishing.

Mrs. Spann's father, James Earl Carter Sr., managed a grocery store, owned an ice house and dry-cleaning establishment and served in the Georgia Legislature for a year. Her mother, Lillian, was a nurse.

They lived on a farm about a half-mile east of the unincorporated community of Archery, three miles west of Plains, a town of 550. Later, they moved to Plains.

She was co-author with her mother of the 1977 book "Away From Home: Letters to My Family," about Lillian Carter's service in the Peace Corps in India.

Surviving in addition to her husband and her brother is a son, William C. Spann.

Jimmy Carter’s family

Jimmy Carter is the oldest of four children of James Earl Carter Sr. and Lillian Gordy Carter. His mother, “Miss Lillian,” died in 1983 at the age of 85. His siblings were Gloria Carter Spann, Ruth Carter Stapleton and Billy Carter.

1983: Ruth Carter Stapleton was an evangelist, author and newspaper columnist

1988: Billy Carter, president’s younger brother, became a popular symbol of the common man

1990: Gloria C. Spann was a motorcyclist, co-wrote book with her mother.

More articles about Jimmy Carter and his family from the AJC