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Statement on the Death of Ben Fortson

May 20, 1979

The death of Ben Fortson is a loss to all Georgians. He loved his State and its people and acted on that love through a lifetime' of public service.

The people of Georgia shared his affection and repeatedly returned him to his post as secretary of state through an era of profound political, social, and economic change.

In my years in State government, particularly as Governor, I grew to know and greatly admire Ben Fortson. In one incident early in his career, he particularly demonstrated the courage and style that added dignity and integrity to State government for more than 40 years: All of State government was in turmoil over who was the legal Governor and, quietly, he kept the Great Seal of Georgia hidden in his wheelchair to prevent the contenders from using it to make their actions official until the controversy could be decided appropriately.

He was never too busy to stop and make history come alive for schoolchildren, and he consistently added a personal touch to the many activities of his office. The Georgia State Capitol will seem a far more lonely place without "Mr. Ben."

Rosalynn and I extend our deepest sympathies to his family.

Jimmy Carter, Statement on the Death of Ben Fortson Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249472

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