Jimmy Carter, our nation’s North Star, is leaving us a shining path to follow

Sneed: At 98 years old, America’s moral compass is in hospice care.

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Rick Jasculca with former President Jimmy Carter in 2015.

Provided photo

It has been a quietly somber wait for the citizens of Plains, Georgia, a small town on deathwatch.

It has been so since ailing former President Jimmy Carter, known as “Mr. Jimmy” to the 550 residents of this small farm community, chose to enter hospice care in his beloved hometown.

But to the folks of this tiny town in cotton and peanut country, it is not their first Carter watch.

Lest we forget: All the members of President Carter’s immediate family — mother, father, two sisters and a brother — all fell victim to the deadly pancreatic cancer.

His father died of it.

His mother’s final cancer was pancreatic.

His brother died of it.

His two sisters succumbed to it.

Miraculously, the disease did not touch Carter, 98, the longest-living president in American history.

Why was Carter spared?

Carter once told the press the only difference between himself and his siblings was he never smoked, which reportedly upped the ante for a pancreatic cancer risk.

Finally, 16 years ago, Carter informed the press he no longer worried about the risk: “I’m deeply religious, I’m a fatalist, I’m 82 years old and I’ve had a good life,” he said.

Then, in 2015, Carter delivered bad news in an extraordinarily remarkable way.

The nation’s 39th president said he had brain cancer, he would undergo radiation immediately, and he was “prepared for anything that comes.”

In a 2015 Sneed column, Chicago PR maven Rick Jasculca told Sneed:

“I was struck by the grace of the moment,” said Jasculca, who considers Carter a member of his family; a man he has worked for since 1975, when Carter was ramping up a run for the Oval Office.

“I was thinking that in my entire career I had never seen a press conference like that, a truly remarkable moment and done with courage and humor.

“When it ended, I went into the bathroom and just busted out crying. Not so much out of sadness, but for his remarkable ability to just sit there and do what he did. To talk about his illness and talk about everything.

“To answer all those questions and deal with it so matter-of-factly. His character and courage and grace and humor and patiently answering every question,” he said.

Following a disappointing presidency, Carter has become an American “moral compass” spending his years in service to others worldwide; a Baptist extraordinaire; a living saint; a hero to trafficked children; a destroyer of a worldwide killer disease; a peacemaker in a troubled world; a homebuilder for those who have none.

To many Americans, Carter may have become a moral compass.

To a troubled world, our ailing former president more than qualifies to become a guiding North Star.


Mayoral candidate Paul Vallas with his grandson, Konstantinos. Provided photo

Grandpa Vallas...

On Tuesday, mayoral candidate Paul Vallas will once again head into a voting booth armed with hopes he will make the cut to govern Chicago.

It will also come days after the 5th anniversary of the death of his youngest son, Mark, a 24-year-old who died in 2018 after battling an addiction to opioids during Vallas’ unsuccessful bid for mayor of Chicago, a race ultimately won by Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

“Our son, Mark, died clean; he had left rehab and was living in a group home,” Vallas told Sneed in a past column after his son’s death. “He took a nap and never woke up.”

Fast forward, Vallas’ recent poll numbers now give him a solid chance to make a mayoral runoff.

He also quietly became a grandfather for the first time last fall when his son, Texas police officer Gus, and his wife, Leslie, became parents of a son, Konstantinos.

“I’m finally a Papou!,” said Vallas, the father of two living sons, one of whom, Gus, is a police officer.

“It feels like it (the birth of Konstantinos) has brought our family full circle,” referencing the tragic death of his third and youngest son, Mark, which had been a gut punch to his family, especially his wife, Sharon.

“The birth of our grandson has brought happiness to all of us,” he told Sneed.

Then he added in proud Greek fashion: “And our grandchild has come into this world with the wonderful experience of being able to meet his great grandma ... his Yia Yia.”


Great Blimey!

Oh, those royal rascals!

Now comes word Lady Susan Hussey, a close pal of England’s late Queen Elizabeth, dismissed barely three months ago from doing official duties for Queen Consort Camilla, wife of England’s new King Charles (for asking a Black woman born in England where in Africa she came from), is now officially back at work.

She is now doing duties for Princess Anne, the new King’s sister.

Dear Ruta…

Condolences to Sun-Times award winning investigative reporter Stephanie Zimmermann, on the death of her beloved mother, Ruta. Stephanie’s lovely Facebook post about her amazing mom, a World War II refugee, will stop your heart on a dime ... “a shiny, perfect, wonderful dime.”

Stephanie notes she and her mom got to travel to the only state in the union Ruta had yet to visit: North Dakota, my home state, where they got to see “the most breathtaking 360-degree sunset atop a high butte, its colors painted across the heavens as far as we could see”... and “under a dark, cloudless sky … shooting stars, constellations and planets, in every direction.” It brought back memories.


It’s time once again: The 23rd annual Chicago Special Olympics Polar Plunge will be attended by 4,000 plungers this year on March 5 at North Ave. beach! Dive or donate! ... Saturday birthdays: TV host Chelsea Handler, 48; actress Tea Leoni, 57, and wrestler Ric Flair, 74. Sunday birthdays: actress Teresa Palmer, 37; singer Erykah Badu, 52, and singer Michael Bolton, 70. … And belated birthdays to Rev. William H. Copeland, 90; and 43rd ward aldermanic candidate Wendi Taylor Nations, 60.

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