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Former President Jimmy Carter, 98, is in hospice care at his Georgia home

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

President Biden and a slew of other federal officials offered prayers and words of comfort to former President Jimmy Carter after he chose to go into hospice care. His final moments will be spent at home with his family in Plains, Ga. At 98 years old, Carter is America's oldest living president, and he has spent much of his life in service, work that earned him the Nobel Peace Prize. And that prize wasn't earned for his time as president but the philanthropic causes he took up after he left public office. To look at Jimmy Carter's life in service, we're joined by Stanly Godbold. He's a retired professor of history, and he wrote two biographies on Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. Good morning.

STANLY GODBOLD: Good morning.

FADEL: So let's start with Jimmy Carter's time as president. How is his one term in office remembered?

GODBOLD: His reputation as a president has been going up. At the time he left office, largely because of the campaign against Reagan in 1980, it was fairly low. But as scholars dig into the documents and learn what really happened, the facts, the truth about what really happened, his reputation as a president has been going up. And then, of course, presidents get compared to their successors, too. So Carter is beginning to get the respect and credit he deserves for the many things he did as president. He was consistent throughout his life, from governorship, presidency, post-presidency, in his drive to serve the people. He always said he wanted to do as much as he could for as many people as he could for as long as he could. And he sought power when he became governor of Georgia and later as president in order to use the power to serve the public good.

FADEL: If I could ask you, it's really the time after his presidency that redefined him in the public sphere, right? I mean, if you could talk about the work he and The Carter Center did post-presidency, those works of service.

GODBOLD: What he did post-presidency - he and Rosalynn, they were equal partners. What they did in the post-presidency was exactly the same thing they did as president, except the times were different, and he was free of politics. The theme of his presidency, he said, was peace and human rights. When they established The Carter Center and later worked with Habitat for Humanity one week out of the year, they were still promoting that theme of peace and human rights. He negotiated settlement - civil war settlements mostly around the world. He provided health care for underprivileged people, monitored elections in order to encourage democracy and freedom from dictatorships almost every place in the world. And late in his career, he even saw the need for working to make sure we had fair elections in the United States.

FADEL: Carter biographer and history professor Stanly Godbold. Thank you so much for your time.

GODBOLD: Thank you for the invitation. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.