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Butler Township commissioner remembers encounter with Rosalynn Carter

Butler Township commission Dave Zarnick
Butler Township commission Dave Zarnick.

On the event the death of former first lady Rosalynn Carter, the Butler Eagle contacted Dave Zarnick, who was mentioned in an April 26, 1976, article about Carter’s visit to the Butler area.

Butler Township commissioner chairman Dave Zarnick said he was in his mid-20s when Rosalynn Carter stayed at his parents’ house in April 1976.

He said Rosalynn remembered it too, because his family continued to receive cards from the Carters year after year.

“Mrs. Carter stayed at our house along with her sister-in-law. They were very down to earth,” Zarnick said. “They invited us back to the White House. We were there for the inauguration, and over the years, they sent Christmas cards to my parents.”

A story in the Butler Eagle on April 26, 1976, said Rosalynn stayed with Gene G. Zarnick while on the campaign trail for her husband, Jimmy Carter. Dave Zarnick said Rosalynn and her traveling companion liked staying in homes rather than hotels, which is how she ended up in many residences during that time.

According to Zarnick, Rosalynn enjoyed talking to his younger sisters, and especially enjoyed the nut bread his mother baked for her — a recipe Zarnick said Rosalynn used herself over the years, after getting it from his mother.

“When she stayed at our house, her husband called to check on her. My sister answered the phone and thought it was my uncle playing a trick on her and hung up,” Zarnick said.

Zarnick said his family was invited to a number of events at the White House, including Jimmy Carter’s inauguration, several holiday balls and meals.

Zarnick said he still has a plaque from his parents commemorating that the Carters stayed in their home, as well as other memorabilia from visits to Washington.

“I have a lot of pictures from over the years,” Zarnick said.

Related Article: Rosalynn Carter, outspoken former first lady, dead at 96 Related Article: In visit here, Mrs. Carter shakes hands at plant gate

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