Hamilton Jordan, who served as the chief of staff for the Carter White House, has died from malignant mesothelioma at the age of 63. Jordan had struggled with several forms of cancer since 1985, including non-Hodgkins lymphoma, prostate cancer, and melanoma. He was treated for mesothelioma for the past two years, but as with most victims of this malignant cancer, no cure was possible and he eventually succumbed.
Jordan was eulogized by many of his former political associates, family members, and media figures at a memorial service at the Carter Center. As part of a ten-minute eulogy, former President Carter said “No other human being affected my life and career more beneficially than Hamilton Jordan. I loved Hamilton like my own son, and I will miss him for the rest of my life.” While still in his 20s, Jordan was the architect of Jimmy Carter’s rise to the Presidency. Following Carter’s election, Jordan served as one of the youngest chiefs of staff ever to serve. He played a role in the Panama Canal treaty negotiations, and also facilitated the Israel-Egypt peace accords at Camp David.
After Carter’s defeat in the 1980 election, Jordan pursued a career in politics on his own, running in the Democratic Senatorial primary in Georgia, but was defeated. He taught at Emory University, worked as an executive for non-profit organizations and served as a campaign consultant for H. Ross Perot’s presidential bid in 1992, but spent most of his energy over the last twenty years advocating for cancer research and dealing with his own cancers. Jordan and his wife built Camp Sunshine, a camp for children suffering from cancer, and founded the Georgia Cancer Coalition, which laid out the plan which eventually led to a $1 billion settlement between state governments and tobacco companies. He wrote a memoir, “No Such Thing as a Bad Day”, in 2000 which became a national best-seller. As a cancer survivor for more than twenty years, Jordan inspired many in the cancer patient community and was a leading advocate for greater funding of cancer research.