President Jimmy Carter, 95, credits wife Rosalynn for his longevity

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Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States and national treasure, turned 95 on October 1. President Carter also made the news last week because he fell at home and got a nasty black eye and needed some stitches. But, he and his wife of 73 years, Rosalynn Carter, were in Nashville later that same night to speak at the start of the 36th Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project with Habitat for Humanity. The former president and first lady were back building houses on Monday morning. During a break, the president chatted with People about his work alongside Rosalynn for Habitat for Humanity, and how he’s made it to 95:

For the record, Jimmy Carter never expected to live this long either.

That’s what he told PEOPLE with a small laugh last week as he took a break from helping build Habitat for Humanity houses in Nashville, Tennessee. For 36 years, he and wife Rosalynn Carter have led an annual build for Habitat, erecting and fixing up more than 4,000 homes.

The partnership has inextricably bound them together — Habitat and the organization’s most famous supporters, there almost since the beginning.

Recalling the start of what would become a decades- and globe-spanning volunteer project, President Carter says he and Mrs. Carter weren’t exactly thinking about longevity when they and a few dozen others bussed up to New York City to work on a six-story apartment building in 1984. The couple had already volunteered with Habitat back in Georgia when, in passing while he was in N.Y.C. to speak at a church, President Carter swung by a Habitat build site there and said, “We need to bring some volunteers in to help.” . . .

This year alone the Carters helped build 21 homes in the Nashville area, expanding a neighborhood Habitat first started about 10 years ago.

“One of the things Jesus taught was: If you have any talents, try to utilize them for the benefit of others,” says President Carter, now 95. “That’s what Rose and I have both tried to do.” . . .

“It’s hard to live until you’re 95 years old,” he tells PEOPLE. “I think the best explanation for that is to marry the best spouse: someone who will take care of you and engage and do things to challenge you and keep you alive and interested in life.”

[From People]

I love listening to President Carter speak, and I love reading his interviews. He always comes across as such a humble, thoughtful, genuine person who takes his role as a former president and still-public servant very seriously. I was anxious when I heard that he fell last week, and I’m so glad that he seems to have recovered well and got right back to work. People reported (in the first linked article) that at the kickoff event, he told the crowd, “‘I had a No. 1 priority and that was to come to Nashville to build houses!’” That’s dedication. I can’t imagine the current occupant of the White House doing that.

I also appreciate what President Carter said about his wife, that it’s important to find someone who will keep you engaged and challenged. I’m sure that that doing work that is meaningful to him keeps him going, too. I just want to wrap him, Justice Ginsburg, and Rep. John Lewis in bubble wrap and keep them safe!

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20 Responses to “President Jimmy Carter, 95, credits wife Rosalynn for his longevity”

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  1. Deedee says:

    I’ll take a 1,000 Jimmy Carters every day. This man has done so much to help others. Between Habitat for Humanity and the eradication of Guinea-worm disease, he has definitely left this planet a better place for his being here.

  2. Erinn says:

    This is the sweetest.

    My gramp used to say that nan was the reason he’d done so well longevity wise. He passed 7 years ago at 90 – but he’d made it through WW2, and multiple heart surgeries and was the longest living person in his family line that we know of. So he definitely defied the odds. Nan is 93 now, and isn’t even the oldest of her family still alive. It’s insane what that generation could survive.

  3. Jerusha says:

    I was privileged to vote for this great man twice. He and Rosalynn are examples of what public servants(everyone, really)should be. I admire them so much.

  4. HK9 says:

    I respect that man. He truly is an example of what to do with the talents you are given.

  5. GR says:

    “I just want to wrap him, Justice Ginsburg, and Rep. John Lewis in bubble wrap and keep them safe!”
    Ditto!

  6. Aims says:

    When I was pregnant with my son I was struggling to pick a name for him. It was when President Carter received his Nobel Prize. I was so moved by his legacy of peace that I decided to name my son Carter in honor Of the President. I love President Carter. He’s a good man.

  7. TheOriginalMia says:

    Proud Georgian! He is a stunning example of the servant leader. He and Rosalyn are state treasures. Love them both!

  8. LindaS says:

    Great to see a former president and spouse working to help others instead of acting like celebrities and just going out and racking up the dough for themselves

  9. lucy2 says:

    Such good people. Truly they have lived a life of service.

  10. Marjorie says:

    I love him. I went to Georgia Tech, as did he, and he came to speak to us while he was president. It was a highlight of my life.

    Jimmy Carter, veteran of the nuclear navy, single handedly saved the planet during the Three Mile Island nuclear crisis. The guys in charge of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the time say this whenever they are interviewed – that Carter knew exactly what should be done and ordered the utility to do so.

    So he was a smart engineer President exactly when we needed one. And he is also kind, open hearted, and believes in equality for all.

    Trivia: his mom, Lillian Gordy Carter, god rest her soul, was related to Berry Gordy of Motown, so Jimmy and Berry are second cousins.

    • Lala11_7 says:

      WUT??????????????????????????????? His Mama is related to the GORDY’S??!?!

      WUT?!?!?! MY GAWD….the things you learn…

      Jimmy Carter was the POTUS that got me interested in politics…I was 11 years and already DRENCHED in politics due to my Mama and my older brother’s activism….and I fell in LOVE with his kindness and intellect…and the fact that he did that he fought for what was right…even when it politically destroyed him….also…his administration taught me INVALUABLE GEOPOLITICAL LESSONS that I use more than ever now…

  11. TQB says:

    His contributions post-presidency have dwarfed that time he was the leader of the free world. Truly inspiring hero.

  12. phlyfiremama says:

    He was truly the only DECENT man that has served as President since…well, since forever. They have all been problematic in their personal lives and Presidential lives, except for him.

  13. Texas says:

    I have always loved Jimmy Carter. I have some buttons from his campaign. He is right about having a good spouse. I not know if it will make either of us live longer, but it sure makes life fun when you have the right one with you.

  14. Nancypants says:

    I may have told this story before but I joined the Air Force right after high school and although I’ve SEEN and been around many presidents, President Carter was arriving at my base in Florida and I was there to take photos and for some reason, he just stopped and walked over and shook my hand and thanked me for coming.
    I wasn’t the only one but I was just floored that my President stopped to shake my hand and thank me and I’ve been a fan ever since.
    I was still a teenager and completely confused by this gesture but I held it together!

    You know, I don’t think he wanted to be President. I think it was some family pressure that caused that but he’s a good, kind man and Savannah, GA is one of my favorite cities.
    Go if you get the chance but avoid summer. Spring is nice when the Azaleas are in bloom.

  15. Swan Lake says:

    What a gift the Carters are. They are truly world citizens, and I stand in awe of their achievements. Yes, let’s wrap them, RBG, and John Lewis in protective bubble wrap!

  16. Lindy says:

    I’m a born and raised Georgia girl and I’ve had the privilege of hearing him speak twice. He really is every bit as engaging, smart, humble and kind as he seems. He is such a treasure and I love him and his wife. We didn’t deserve him as a president but I truly hope we get someone like him again.