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How Ex-Presidents Cope After Leaving Office

Learn about happy and meaningful retirement examples and stories of America's ex-presidents

  • Photo by Pat Wellenbach/AP

    Don't Rock the Boat

    En español | Once bitter political rivals for the same office, Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush have forged a strong personal friendship and developed mutual admiration. They have shared appearances at golf tournaments, long lunches in Houston and Maine boat outings, like this one in 2005.

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  • Bettmann/CORBIS

    Wise Counsel

    Dwight D. Eisenhower famously played a lot of golf during and after his presidency. But he also served as a sounding board for his successor, John F. Kennedy. Here, presidents 34 and 35 confer at Camp David in April 1961 after the U.S. invasion of Cuba's Bay of Pigs, a fiasco that Ike planned and JFK carried out.

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  • Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

    Like Father, Like Son

    Any time's a great time to take in a game together when baseball is a father and son's favorite pastime. But it's extra special when they're also two former presidents enjoying the honor of throwing out the first pitch of a 2010 World Series game in their beloved Texas.

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  • Photo by Stan Badz/PGA Tour

    In the Swing

    Golf helps Bill Clinton stay in shape. Fifteen of the last 18 presidents hit the links at least occasionally, according to Golf Digest. Where among the first duffers does the magazine rank Clinton? No. 7.

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  • Photo by Roberto Rodriguez/Amarillo Globe News/Getty Images

    Cycle Power

    George W. Bush rides near the front of a pack of mountain bikers in Palo Duro Canyon State Park near Amarillo, Texas. Nineteen servicemen and servicewomen wounded in Iraq or Afghanistan joined the former president in the 2nd annual Bush Center Warrior 100K Race in April 2012.

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  • Robert F. Bukaty/AP/Corbis

    Out of the Blue

    For his 85th birthday in 2009, Bush the elder teams up with an Army officer for a parachute jump. Bush made his first jump when his plane was shot down over the Pacific in 1944 during World War II. After his third birthday celebration jump (the other two came at 75 and 80), Bush advised his peers: "Get out and do something. Get out and enjoy life."

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  • Corbis

    If I Had a Hammer

    Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn, attach siding to a home being built for Habitat for Humanity, one of the former president's highest-profile causes. For his persistent global activism promoting human rights and social development, Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

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  • Pat Wellenbach/AP Photo

    Movers and Shakers

    Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, flanking Haitian President René Préval after the island's 2010 earthquake, joined forces to lead a major fundraising effort to help rebuild Haiti. The two have also teamed up to fight AIDS; Clinton and the older former President Bush collaborated on fundraising efforts after the 2004 tsunami in South Asia and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

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  • Courtesy Richard Nixon Library

    Chinese Diplomacy

    President Richard Nixon's trip to China in 1972 ended 25 years of isolation between the two countries and led to diplomatic relations in 1979. After leaving office, Nixon, here playing with a child during a later visit to China, continued to strengthen ties between the United States and countries around the world.

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  • Time & Life Pictures/Getty Image

    Texas Twosome

    Less than nine years after Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson celebrated his 1964 landslide election victory at their Texas ranch, the 36th president collapsed there and died later that day. "The Lord knew what he was doing when he took Daddy first, because I don't think Daddy could have gotten along without Mother," their eldest daughter, Lynda Johnson Robb, later said.

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    Quiet Time

    In 1980, the year he was first elected president, Ronald Reagan provides a strong shoulder for his wife Nancy. In a letter to the country disclosing his illness after he left office, Reagan wrote, "Unfortunately, as Alzheimer's disease progresses, the family often bears a heavy burden."

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    Riding in Style

    Don't let the distance between Harry and Bess Truman fool you. Their love, spurred by a meeting in Sunday school when he was 6 and she was 5, still ran deep when they were photographed after the 33rd president had left office. When their 29th wedding anniversary found them apart, Harry wrote to Bess: "You still are on the pedestal where I placed you that day in Sunday school 1890. What an old fool I am."

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    Spousal Support

    George W. and Laura Bush have traveled many miles together off the campaign trail. Here the former president kisses his wife after an address at a festival on July 4, 2009, in Woodward, Okla.

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