Jimmy Carter adds another achievement to his name: The longest-living president in US history
While Jimmy Carter's stint in the Oval Office may have ended unceremoniously after voters rejected his bid for a second term in favor of Ronald Reagan, he has now surpassed George H.W. Bush to become the longest living president in the country's history.
According to CNN, March 22 saw Carter turn 94 years and 172 days old, a day more than the age at which Bush died this past November 30. Coincidentally, both were born in the same year, 1924 — Bush on June 12, Carter on October 1.
Deanna Congileo, a spokeswoman for Carter, said there were no special celebrations planned to mark the day. "He and Mrs. Carter take walks, and they have followed a healthy diet for a lifetime," she said.
"Both President and Mrs. Carter are both determined to use their influence for as long as they can to make the world a better place, and millions of the world's poorest people are grateful for their resolve and heart."
Carter's rise to the presidency itself was quite remarkable. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he left his naval career in 1953 following the death of his father and returned home to take up his family's peanut farming business.
It was here that he became motivated to oppose racial segregation and voiced his support to the growing civil rights movement, becoming an activist for the Democratic Party.
This eventually saw him kickstart a political career and serve in the Georgia State senate between 1963 to 1967 before ascending to governor of the state by beating former governor Carl Sanders in the Democratic primary on an anti-segregation platform.
Despite being relatively unknown outside the state and considered a "dark horse candidate," his meteoric rise was capped by winning the Democratic presidential nomination and narrowly beating out Republican incumbent Gerald Ford to the presidency.
However, his four years as Commander-in-Chief was marked by controversy. The 1979-1981 Iran hostage crisis, the 1979 energy crisis, the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan meant that he will be remembered historically as an average president, though his active public life post-presidency has seen him earn several plaudits, including a Nobel Peace Prize for his work in co-founding the Carter Center.
Established in Atlanta in 1982 by Carter and his wife Rosalynn to focus on global human rights issues, Carter himself considers his work at the Center, and not his presidency, as his defining professional achievement.
"I spent four of my ninety years in the White House, and they were, of course, the pinnacle of my political life," he wrote in his 2014 memoir 'Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President,' CTV News reported.
"Those years, though, do not dominate my chain of memories, and there was never an orderly or planned path to get there during my early life. Teaching, writing and helping The Carter Center evolve ... seem to constitute the high points in my life."
Carter previously explained his next goal was to eliminate the Guinea worm disease, a parasitic infection which afflicts mostly those in Africa without access to safe drinking water.
When the Carter Center began its eradication program in 1986, there were 3.5 million cases in 21 countries. In 2018, that number had dropped down to just 28. "I'm hoping that I will live longer than the last Guinea worm," he was quoted saying in a 2016 interview.
"That's one of my goals in life, and I think I have a good chance to succeed."