Chick-fil-A board chairman Dan Cathy reflects on Jimmy Carter’s ‘profound’ legacy

President Jimmy Carter has touched the lives of millions of people — including mine. In fact, I’ve had the great honor of knowing him for many years.  

My late father, S. Truett Cathy, who founded Chick-fil-A, was a contemporary of President Carter with similarly humble Georgia roots. In the early 1970s, when the future president was Georgia’s governor, my dad would see him from time to time, often sharing chicken sandwiches. 

When President Carter returned to Georgia after leaving the White House, Dad was honored to host him for a welcome home luncheon, so much so that he later marked the president’s chair with an engraved brass plate.

Dan Cathy with Jimmy Carter
Dan Cathy, chairman of the Chick-fil-A board, is pictured with former President Jimmy Carter. (Photo courtesy of Dan Cathy)

Years later, when I served on The Carter Center’s board of councilors, the president insisted on informality: “Just call me Jimmy.” And I can assure you that Jimmy and his dear wife Rosalynn have always been humble, hands-on leaders.

Together, the Carters have made a profound difference in the world. Through The Carter Center, they’ve advanced democracy with election monitoring and nearly eradicated guinea worm disease. With Habitat for Humanity, they’ve inspired countless others to help build decent, affordable housing.

For years, I’ve personally been inspired by the ways President Carter has lived out his Christian faith. Again and again, he has shown what it means to be the heart and hands of God on Earth, in service to the poor, the sick, the neglected and downtrodden.

Now, with the news that President Carter is at home with his family on hospice care, people everywhere are talking about his extraordinary life. I believe his story of humility, compassion, leadership and love will inspire others to action and service for generations to come, in America and around the globe.

Dan T. Cathy is chairman of Chick-fil-A, Inc., one of the nation’s largest family-owned businesses, and 2019 chair of The Carter Center’s Board of Councilors. He was previously the company’s chief executive officer, serving as CEO from 2013 until Nov. 1, 2021.

Read more on President Carter:

Jimmy Carter: From Plains to prominence

A look at Jimmy Carter's Georgia

Commentary: He is ‘Mr. Jimmy’ to me

Q & A: Americus Mayor Lee Kinnamon on Jimmy Carter: “… a giant man, who never lost his connection to this little place”

Commentary: What Jimmy Carter taught me about being a public servant and reading a compass

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Header image: Dan Cathy, chairman of the Chick-fil-A board, is pictured with former President Jimmy Carter. (Photo courtesy of Dan Cathy)

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