Jimmy Carter: What to know about the former president and humanitarian

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What You Need to Know about Jimmy Carter

President Jimmy Carter served as the 39th president of the United States, from 1977 to 1981, but before that, he was the 76th governor of Georgia and a member of the Georgia State Senate.

Although he’s had a lengthy career in politics, Carter has worked as a diplomat and humanitarian. He’s also authored dozens of books.

Carter was born Oct. 1, 1924. He had a drive-by parade in Plains for his 96th birthday.

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Naval Academy graduate

Carter graduated from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, at the top of his class in 1946. He started a Navy career soon after, spending five years on submarine duty.

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Father of four

Carter married Rosalynn Smith, who became Rosalynn Carter, in 1946, soon after graduating from high school. They had four children: Jack Carter, born in 1947; James Carter, born in 1950; Donnel Carter, born in 1952; and Amy Carter, born in 1967.

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Rebuilt family’s peanut warehouse

In his hometown of Plains, Georgia, Carter's parents, Earl and Lillian Carter, owned a peanut farm, warehouse and store. When Earl Carter died of cancer in 1953, Carter resigned from the Navy, came back home and worked to rebuild the business. Despite a drought in 1954 and a boycott against integration, Carter made the business profitable by 1959.

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Devoted to humanitarianism

The Carter Center opened in 1982, and its mission, in partnership with Emory University in Atlanta, is to resolve conflicts and improve human health through a commitment to human rights. Part of that work led Carter to be honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Cancer survivor

Carter was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma in August 2015. While teaching Sunday school at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, he said he had surgery on a mass on his liver and had radiation treatment on four melanoma spots in his brain.

Despite the diagnosis, Carter remained active in his humanitarian work, helping build a Habitat for Humanity house in Memphis, Tennessee.

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By December 2015, Carter said, "My most recent MRI brain scan did not reveal any signs of the original cancer spots nor any new ones."

In May 2016, Carter Center director of communications Deanna Congileo confirmed that Carter did not need any more treatments but would “continue scans and resume treatment if necessary.”

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