One of Jimmy Carter’s first visits to Iowa came in Le Mars

LE MARS — As former President Jimmy Carter is in failing health, it was 48 years ago this past weekend the then-Georgia governor and presidential candidate made an appearance in Le Mars, likely his first campaign stop in Iowa.

John Devereaux, who then worked at Westmar College in Le Mars, says Carter was asked to speak at a Democratic Party event in Le Mars, a full year before the Iowa Caucuses. “Just on a lark, we would invite all of the potential Democratic candidates for president, and we must have sent out those invitations a couple of months prior to the date that we had picked for the dinner,” Devereaux says. “The Carter campaign, wrote back and said that he could come.”

Carter ended up being the only candidate who could attend the dinner. Carter flew to Omaha for another event, then an aide drove him as far as a truck stop in Onawa, Iowa.  “I went and picked him up and drove him over to the college for his speech that night,” he says. “It was very well attended. He made a good speech and people were impressed. I don’t remember what he said but it was kind of the standard stump speech that he used quite a lot.”

Deveraux later became the state coordinator for the Carter campaign in Iowa in 1976, and after the election, took a job in the administration in Washington D.C. Carter, who’s 98, recently entered home hospice care.