Photographer saddened by news Jimmy Carter is in hospice
LINCOLN. North Platte photographer George Hipple was flooded with memories when he heard the news that former President Jimmy Carter was in hospice.
Hipple was the former president’s official photographer for 13 years, when he participated in the Habitat for Humanity project “under construction” in places as far away as India, Africa and the Philippines.
“He meant so much to so many people,” he said. “You couldn’t help but fall under the influence of such a person.”
Carter, 98, decided to spend “the rest of his time at home with his family and receive hospice care instead of additional medical intervention,” the Associated Press reported Feb. 21.
Hipple, 63, accompanied Carter and Habitat for Humanity volunteers for two to four weeks as they built homes in the US and abroad.
Carter and his wife Rosalynn have been involved in charity work for 35 years.
The face of the habitat
Hipple said that Jimmy Carter was the face of the organization and was often mistaken for its founder. Millard Fuller, a lawyer, and his wife Linda founded the Christian organization in 1976.
According to Hipple, Carter’s involvement was not just for show.
According to him, working days will start at 4 am and continue until the evening. Carter, whose experience growing peanuts was legendary, often encouraged celebrities who showed up at Habitat lots to do more than just pose with a hammer.
“There’s nothing that pisses Carter off more than seeing someone not working,” Hipple said. “‘Get back to work. That’s what we’re here for,” he said.
“Wear at the end of the day”
“Even in my 40s, when I worked with him – he was in his 80s – I was literally exhausted by the end of the day.”
“That’s why he was president,” Hipple said of his endurance and dedication.
Hipple, who runs a photography studio in North Platte and works with state parole and probation programs, said he volunteered when he photographed the former president, although Habitat for Humanity paid for his flights and other expenses.
Hipple said his work has led to meeting celebrities such as Garth Brooks and Brad Pitt at construction sites in Haiti and India. He was also invited to a gala dinner in Carter’s honor in the Philippines, Hipple’s birthplace.
Cher, according to him, was a real “diva”.
“It was amazing to be a part of it, actually,” Hipple said. “This dude from Nebraska…does it on the world stage.”
According to him, the blow to Carter was that after he became president, he felt better than when he was in the White House. The former president was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his commitment to finding “peaceful solutions” to international conflicts.
The photographer said he left his post at Habitat about five years ago but still remembers following Carter to his hometown of Plains, Georgia.
According to Hipple, Carter taught Sunday school when he was at home and found time to sit and talk with people who came to visit him at church.
“He was just like you and me,” he said. “Ordinary people. He just had a higher calling than any of us.”
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