When the four buff-colored pavilions of the Carter Presidential Center in Atlanta opened to the public last October, former United States President Jimmy Carter noted that ``this is one time that the dream was exceeded by the reality.'' His ``dream,'' as Mr. Carter has said, is to ``gather thoughtful people from all walks of life'' to pursue ``meaningful alternatives to even the most controversial and intransigent problems.'' With that in mind, Carter has devoted much of his energy since leaving the White House in 1981 to the establishment of the center. In addition to housing some 27 million documents from his presidency, the facility provides a home for a new public-policy think tank (the Carter Center of Emory University), as well as for the Carter-Menil Human Rights Foundation and for Global 2000 Inc., which studies worldwide problems of hunger, health, and the environment.
James Earl Carter, born in Plains, Ga., graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1946 and worked in the Navy's nuclear submarine program. In 1953 he returned to the family farm in Georgia, operated a profitable seed and farm-supply business, and was a deacon and Sunday School teacher in his local church. Elected to the Georgia Senate in 1962, he became governor of Georgia in 1971. In 1976, after winning a first-ballot nomination for president at the Democratic National Convention, he was elected 39th President of the United States. He and his wife, Rosalynn, now live in Plains.