William Alton Carter
March 29, 1937
Plains, Georgia, U.S.
|Died||September 25, 1988 (aged 51)|
Plains, Georgia, U.S.
|Cause of death||Pancreatic cancer|
Sybil Spires (m. 1955)
|Parent(s)||James Earl Carter Sr.|
Lillian Gordy Carter
William Alton Carter (March 29, 1937 – September 25, 1988) was an American farmer, businessman, brewer, and politician, and the younger brother of U.S. President Jimmy Carter. Carter promoted Billy Beer and was a candidate for mayor of Plains, Georgia.
Carter was born in Plains, Georgia, to James Earl Carter Sr. and Lillian Gordy Carter. He was named after his paternal grandfather and great-grandfather, William Carter Sr. and William Archibald Carter Jr. respectively. He attended Emory University in Atlanta but did not complete a degree. He served four years in the United States Marine Corps, then returned to Plains to work with his brother in the family business of growing peanuts. In 1955, at the age of 18, he married Sybil Spires (b. 1939), also of Plains. They were the parents of six children: Kim, Jana, William "Buddy" Carter IV, Marle, Mandy, and Earl, who was 12 years old when his father died. His siblings were Jimmy Carter, Gloria Carter-Spann and Ruth Carter
1970s and later
In 1972, Billy Carter purchased a gas and service station in Plains. He owned and operated it for most of the decade.
Carter ran for mayor of Plains in 1976, but lost the election by a few votes.
In 1977, he endorsed Billy Beer, introduced by the Falls City Brewing Company, who wished to capitalize upon his colorful image as a beer-drinking Southern good ol' boy that developed in the press when his brother ran for President. Billy Carter's name was occasionally used as a gag answer for a Washington, D.C., trouble-maker on 1970s episodes of Match Game. He was known for his outlandish public behavior; he once urinated on an airport runway in full view of the press and dignitaries.
Relationship with Libya
In late 1978 and early 1979, Billy Carter visited Libya three times with a contingent from Georgia. He eventually registered as a foreign agent of the Libyan government and received a $220,000 loan. (Edwin P. Wilson claimed he had seen a telegram showing that Libya paid Billy Carter $2 million.) This led to a Senate hearing on alleged influence peddling which the press named Billygate. A Senate sub-committee was called To Investigate Activities of Individuals Representing Interests of Foreign Governments (Billy Carter—Libya Investigation). On August 4, 1980, President Jimmy Carter wrote: "I am deeply concerned that Billy has received funds from Libya and that he may be under obligation to Libya. These facts will govern my relationship with Billy as long as I am president. Billy has had no influence on U.S. policy or actions concerning Libya in the past, and he will have no influence in the future."
Carter was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the fall of 1987 and received unsuccessful treatments for the disease. He died in Plains the following year at the age of 51. His death came just five years after the death of his sister Ruth Stapleton, who also died of pancreatic cancer at age 54.
- Billy Carter's Station
- Ayres, Drummond (December 7, 1976). "Billy Carter Loses". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 March 2019.
- Watson, Robert P. (2012). Life in the White House: A Social History of the First Family and the President's House. Albany, New York: SUNY Press. p. 119. ISBN 0791485072. Retrieved 2017-04-02.
- "Billy Carter Curbs Tongue", Spokane Daily Chronicle, January 15, 1979
- Joseph J. Trento, Prelude to Terror: Edwin P. Wilson and the Legacy of America's Private Intelligence Network (Carroll and Graf, 2005), p. 162.
- Sabato, Larry (July 21, 1998). "Billygate – 1980". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 28, 2011.
- Trento, Prelude to Terror, p. 164. Trento asserts that Libya's involvement with Billy Carter was instigated by Israeli intelligence in order "to compromise the president", who had ended Israel's "special status inside the CIA". Trento, 160, 157.
- Hershey Jr., Robert D. (September 26, 1988). "Billy Carter Dies of Cancer at 51. Troubled Brother of a President". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-29.
Billy Carter, the irrepressible gas station proprietor and farmer who vaulted to national celebrity in his brother Jimmy's successful campaign for President in 1976, died of cancer of the pancreas yesterday at his home in Plains, Georgia. He was 51 years old.
- FBI file on Billy Carter
- Inquiry into the matter of Billy Carter and Libya: hearings before the Subcommittee to Investigate the Activities of Individuals Representing the Interests of Foreign Governments of the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, Ninety-sixth Congress, second session, August 4, 6, 19, 20, 21, 22, September 4, 5, 9, 10, 16, 17, and October 2, 1980
- Billy Carter's "Redneck Power Pick-up" model
- "Billy Carter Has Surgery". The New York Times. September 12, 1987. p. 34 (section 1).
- "Billy Carter". Find a Grave. Retrieved 2009-02-10.
- Blanco, José F. (2010). "Becoming Billy Carter: Clothes Make the Man (and His Many Characters)". Southern Cultures. 16 (2): 6–30. doi:10.1353/scu.0.0108.