Billy Carter

Billy Carter

William Alton "Billy" Carter (March 29, 1937 – September 25, 1988) was the younger brother of United States President Jimmy Carter, born in Plains, Georgia.

For a time, Carter attended Emory University in the Atlanta area but did not complete a degree. Carter served four years in the United States Marine Corps, then returned to Plains to work for his older brother in the family business of growing peanuts. In 1955, he married Sybil Spires of Plains. They were the parents of six: Kim, Jana, William "Buddy", Marle, Mandy and Earl, who was just 12 years old when his father died.

On December 6, 1976, he lost the mayoral election in Plains.

In 1977, Carter endorsed Billy Beer, capitalizing upon his colorful image as a beer-drinking Southern boy that had developed in the press while 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 The Match Game. Carter was known for his outlandish public behavior. For example, he once urinated on an airport runway in full view of the press and dignitaries.

In late 1978 and early 1979, Carter visited Libya with a contingent from Georgia three times. He eventually registered as a foreign agent of the Libyan government and received a $220,000 loan. This led to a Senate hearing over alleged influence peddling which some in the press dubbed "Billygate." A Senate sub-committee was called To Investigate Activities of Individuals Representing Interests of Foreign Governments (Billy Carter-Libya Investigation).

After the failure of Billy Beer, Carter sold his house to settle back taxes with the IRS. In later years, Carter also admitted he was an alcoholic and sought medical treatment for the affliction which he was able to overcome. He went public with this to help others. In September 1987, Carter was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and unsuccessfully took treatments for the disease. Carter died in Plains at the age of fifty-one. His mother and both of his sisters also died from pancreatic cancer.

In 1999, Carter's son William "Buddy" Carter published a biography of his father titled Billy Carter: A Journey Through the Shadows (ISBN 1-56352-553-4).