Hugh Carter Jr., ex-White House staffer and relative of Jimmy, dies

Son of Georgia state lawmaker also owned Atlanta printing company.
Hugh Carter (second from left), with his daughter Kathleen Carter, wife Glenna Carter and daughters Mary Elise Rising, and Emily Gaston.

Credit: Kathleen Carter

Credit: Kathleen Carter

Hugh Carter (second from left), with his daughter Kathleen Carter, wife Glenna Carter and daughters Mary Elise Rising, and Emily Gaston.

Hugh Alton Carter Jr., who held a high-level post in Jimmy Carter’s White House and owned a book-publishing business in Atlanta, has died.

Known as “Sonny,” he served four years as Special Assistant to the President for Administration, reporting directly to President Carter.

The Georgian managed all administrative and military support to the President and was a liaison between President Carter and former presidents Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon. He also gained the moniker “Cousin cheap” in the Washington press for his cost-cutting ways.

Hugh Alton Carter Jr., the son of a first cousin of Jimmy Carter, was a key organizer of the “Peanut Brigade,” the Plains-based action committee that worked to get Carter elected president.

“My family and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Hugh “Sonny” Carter. He was not only close family, but he was crucial in my grandfather’s election as president by organizing the famous Peanut Brigade, and he skillfully implemented true zero-based budgeting within my grandfather’s White House,” said Jason Carter, chairman of the Carter Center.

“He was also widely known for his kindness and generosity. We will keep (Hugh Carter’s wife) Glenna and his family in our hearts and prayers during this difficult time,” Jason Carter added.

Hugh Carter died Sunday in his home in Tampa, surrounded by family. He was 80.

Born on Sept. 29, 1942, in Americus, he was the son of Ruth and Hugh A. Carter Sr.

In 1967, Hugh A. Carter Sr., a Plains antique dealer and large-scale worm farmer, succeeded his cousin Jimmy in the State Senate and held on to the seat for 14 years until he stepped down in 1981.

Hugh Carter Jr. earned his Bachelor of Industrial Engineering degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1964 and his Master of Business Administration degree from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968.

In the interim, he served as an officer in the U.S. Army.

Prior to joining the White House staff, Hugh Carter Jr. spent eight years with the John H. Harland Company, an Atlanta-based check printing company, as vice president.

For 27 years, Hugh Carter Jr. was the owner of the Atlanta-based Darby Printing Company, a book manufacturing and publishing company. In 2013, he sold the company and retired to a lake house on Lake Oconee, before recently moving to Tampa.

He was a member of The Carter Center Board of Councilors, a former member of the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, and a former member of the Board of Trustees of the Georgia Tech Foundation.

He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Glenna Garrett Carter; three daughters, Mary Elise Rising of Tampa, Kathleen Carter of Denver and Emily Gaston of Charlotte; two sisters, Laurie Tharpe of Macon and Connie Collins of Byron; and three grandchildren.

The family will hold a private family burial and a memorial service at on Aug. 5, at 11 a.m. at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains.

Donations may be made to Melech Hospice House (11125 North 52nd Street Temple Terrace, Fla. 33617), The Alzheimer’s Association, The Carter Center, The Atlanta Lab Rescue or Georgia Tech.