Gloria Spann (Carter) (1926 - 1990)

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Birthdate:
Birthplace: Plains, Sumter, Georgia, United States
Death: Died in Plains, Sumter, Georgia, United States
Cause of death: pancreatic cancer
Occupation: secretary
Managed by: Myron McGahan
Last Updated:

About Gloria Spann (Carter)

Gloria Carter Spann is Dorothy Willard's 8th cousin.

Dorothy Willard (Duncan)→John Henry Duncan, Dorothy’s father→Emma Jane Duncan (Whitman), John’s mother→Mary Jane Whitman (Stodghill), Emma’s mother→Joel Stodghill, Mary Jane’s father→Durette Stodghill, Joel’s father→Joel Stodghill, Durette’s father→James Stodghill, Joel’s father→Ann Stodghill (Madison), James mother→John Madison, Ann’s father→Catherine Gaines (Madison), John’s daughter and Ann’s sister→Richard Gaines, Catherine’s son→Mildred Brown (Gaines), Richard’s daughter→Hollinger Brown, Mildred’s son→Mary Marcus Dawson (Brown), Hollinger’s daughter→Mary Elizabeth Nicholson (Dawson), Mary Marcus Dawson’s daughter→Mary Ida Gordy(Nicholson), Mary Nicholson’s daughter→Bessie Lillian Carter (Gordy), Mary Ida’s daughter→Gloria Carter Spann, Bessie Lillian’s daughter and Dorothy Willard’s 8th cousin.

Gloria Carter Spann is Clifford Willard's 8th cousin five times removed.

Clifford Willard→Leon Willard, his father→Joseph Maybrey Willard, his father→Josephine Melissa Willard, his mother→Isaac Prickett, her father→Jane Prickett, his mother→ Nancy Ventioner, her mother→Sarah Thaxton, her mother→Yancey Bailey, her father→Roger Cocke Bailey, his father→Temperance Bailey, his mother→Sarah Cocke, her mother→ Katherine Perrin, her mother→ Katherine Royall, her mother→ Anne Eppes, her daughter and Katherine Royall's sister→ Elizabeth Randolph, Anne's daughter→Sarah Barksdale, her daughter→Lucy Burnley, her daughter→Elizabeth Seals, her daughter→William Archibald Seals, her son→Mary Ann Carter, his daughter→William Archibald Carter, her son→James Earl Carter, his son→Gloria Carter Spann, his daughter.

Gloria Carter was the second of four children born to James Earl Carter, Sr. and Lillian Gordy Carter and was 24 months younger than her brother, Jimmy. By many accounts, Gloria was the smartest, most attractive, most outgoing and most talented of the Carter children. As children competing for the affections of their parents, the relationship between Spann and the future President was somewhat strained but the two grew extremely close in their later years.

Carter graduated from high school in June 1945 and enrolled in Georgia Southwestern College where she began to study journalism. Her plans were deterred as she eloped was married in December 1945 to a war hero named William Everett from Americus. The Carters disapproved the match as the groom was a former drug store clerk. This was not a suitable job for the well-to-do families at the time. The marriage produced a son, William Everett (Hardy) (1946-1997). Carter returned to Georgia in 1949 from Texas and Earl Carter was upset by the brutal beatings Gloria suffered at the hands of her husband. With the help of her father, Earl Carter, Gloria had her marriage annulled in 1949. In July 1953, just a week before her father's death, Carter married Walter Spann, a farmer from Webster County, Georgia and he adopted the son from her first marriage. Walter and Gloria Spann produced no children of their own together but the marriage lasted almost 37 years until her death.

Although she had some level of fame of her own before Jimmy's election, she was not forced into the spotlight until her brother was elected President. Gloria was probably the sibling who shunned the spotlight most during her brothers' years in office. Prior to the Jimmy Carter achieving the presidency in 1976, Spann had participated in several prior campaigns for her brother. In his bids for the governorship of Georgia, she made countless phone calls and mailed numerous pamphlets in order to win votes for Carter. Mrs. Spann maintained a relatively low profile as she and her husband, Walter participated in cross-country motorcycling across the country on their Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Mrs. Spann's son caused her great distress. He became a nocturnal wanderer and often stayed gone for three or four days at a time, leaving Mrs. Spann frantic. Since her husband made good money, Gloria was not required to work but since her son was continually expelled from schools, Gloria Spann began work as a secretary in order to send her son to a private school. This in turn caused Gloria to discuss her trouble with her evangelist sister, Ruth Stapleton and then found a solution. After being assigned to Ruth's cabin in the mountains, Gloria picked up material that encourages the reader to give his or her problems to God. Spann expected to be bored to sleep by the material but saw that it was something she could use and finally took her sisters' advice on turning this situation over to God.

William Carter Spann moved to California in 1969 and Gloria turned her interests in other directions. William Spann often said that his mother rejected him and used this as a means to justify his unconventional behavior. Gloria Carter Spann did not see her son even once during the last twenty-one years of her life.

Though William had moved out to California and severed contact with his family, this did not keep him out of the spotlight. During Jimmy Carter's 1976 Presidential campaign, the media's intense scrutiny found them at William's jail cell out in California. When interviewed about his uncle's success, he stated: "He's in the White House, I'm in the big house." Gloria also received a phone call threatening to reveal that "Jimmy Carter's got a nephew in jail" if she did not pay a sum of money to keep the caller quiet.

During their years as motorcyclists, Gloria and her husband became "den mother" and father to the younger riders. The Spann's planted a large garden for the bikers each year and canned the vegetables to serve as they often had unexpected guests. Their farmhouse was arranged for multiple cots or sleeping bags. Walter constructed a four-hole outhouse to accommodate bikers who were cruising through the South or headed down to the races at Daytona.

Gloria was a contestant on the game show The Price is Right but didn't win. In 1977, Mrs. Spann, along with her mother, published Away from Home, Letters to my Family that discusses events surrounding Miss Lillian's trip to India with the Peace Corps.

Mrs. Spann was once arrested for playing a harmonica in a café in Plains, Georgia.

In the fall of 1989, Mrs. Spann learned that she had pancreatic cancer. The Spanns, both approaching 70, were looking forward to retiring to their farmhouse and continuing their interest in motorcycles. The disease as usual, was detected in its late stages when aside from painkillers, nothing can be done about the cancer itself. Spann had been a smoker but had broken the habit in the years prior to her death. Like her two younger siblings who had died of the disease during the 1980s, she declined life-extending treatment.

Family and friends accommodated very well for Gloria during this time. On March 5, 1990, Mrs. Gloria Carter Spann, 63, died of the disease. Gloria's tombstone reads, "She rides in Harley Heaven." Spann is buried in the Lebanon Church Cemetery near Plains, Georgia where her parents and brother, Billy Carter, are also buried.

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Gloria Spann's Timeline

1926
October 22, 1926
Plains, Sumter, Georgia, United States
1946
1946
Age 19
1990
March 5, 1990
Age 63
Plains, Sumter, Georgia, United States
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