Americans celebrate Jimmy Carter’s 99th birthday as he receives hospice care

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans celebrated the 99th birthday of former President Jimmy Carter this weekend, with the White House putting up a wooden cake display on its north lawn and the Carter library in Georgia hosting a party for the public.

Carter, a Democrat who served as U.S. president from January 1977 to January 1981, is in hospice care after deciding in February to decline additional medical intervention. He turns 99 on Sunday.

In Atlanta, the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum hosted a celebration that it said would feature cake, games, trivia and a food truck. The party was moved up to Saturday ahead of a possible government shutdown that could start around midnight on Sunday.

Back in Washington, a three-tiered wooden cake display, decorated in the red, white and blue colors of the American flag and featuring 39 candles in recognition of Carter’s being the country’s 39th president, festooned the White House lawn with a “Happy Birthday President Carter” message.

Carter, who was born on Oct 1, 1924, has lived longer after leaving office than any former president in U.S. history. He has garnered worldwide admiration for his post-presidency humanitarian work and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

Carter has faced health challenges in recent years, including melanoma that spread to his liver and brain, but he has continued to show resilience, even after his decision to start hospice care.

He and his wife, Rosalynn Carter, who has dementia, took an outing a week ago to attend the annual peanut festival in their hometown of Plains, Georgia.

Carter’s grandson Jason told the New York Times that the former president faced physical limitations and was “coming to the end,” but was home, with his wife, and at peace.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Leslie Adler)