The enduring love story of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter spanned over 77 years, making them the longest-married couple ever to reside in the White House. Rosalynn, who passed away peacefully at the age of 96, was not just the First Lady but the unwavering support and equal partner in Jimmy Carter’s life.
Jimmy Carter, reflecting on their remarkable journey, often stated, “The best thing I ever did was marrying Rosalynn.” Despite his roles as the President of the United States and the Governor of Georgia, he considered his marriage to Rosalynn the pinnacle of his life.
Rosalynn played a crucial role in Jimmy Carter’s political career, standing by him during his inauguration as the 39th president and providing steadfast support during challenging times, including the Iran hostage crisis and the defeat to Ronald Reagan. Their enduring love story remained a source of strength, even in the face of Jimmy Carter’s decision to opt for hospice care in his final days.
The couple, surrounded by their four children, 11 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren, found solace in the love that filled their home. Their grandson, Jason Carter, expressed that “they are at peace, and – as always – their home is full of love.”
The courtship and early life of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter were marked by a deep connection that started when Jimmy, a Navy cadet, began courting Rosalynn while at the United States Naval Academy. Despite Rosalynn initially turning down his proposal to fulfill a promise to her dying father, their love prevailed, and they embarked on a lifelong adventure together.
Born three years apart in the small town of Plains, Georgia, their childhood connection evolved into a profound love. Rosalynn admitted falling in love with a photograph of Jimmy that adorned her friend Ruth’s bedroom wall. Their first date, cruising in the rumble seat of a Ford pickup, marked the beginning of a love story that led to their marriage on July 7, 1946.
Transitioning into the realm of politics, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter returned to Plains after Jimmy’s service in the Navy. Jimmy became active in the local Democratic Party, advocating against racial segregation. In 1963, with Rosalynn by his side, he was elected to the Georgia State Senate, setting the stage for a remarkable political career.
Rosalynn continued to play a pivotal role in her husband’s political journey, focusing on mental health issues while he served as governor of Georgia. She expanded her influence during Jimmy’s run for the presidency in 1975, helping him secure victory and becoming a trusted advisor during his presidency. Jimmy openly referred to her as his “secret weapon” and valued her counsel in crucial national events.
After their life in the White House, the Carters didn’t retire; instead, they engaged in humanitarian work, collaborating with Habitat for Humanity to build homes for those in need. Their shared interests in bird-watching and fly-fishing strengthened their bond, exemplifying the simple yet powerful aspects of their enduring love.
In a 2021 interview, the Carters shared the secrets to their long and happy marriage, emphasizing the importance of working on shared projects and giving each other space for individual pursuits. Despite occasional arguments, they made it a point never to go to bed angry, ensuring reconciliation before the end of each day.
The legacy of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter goes beyond political achievements; it is a testament to the power of love, partnership, and shared values. As the world mourns the loss of Rosalynn, her impact on Jimmy Carter’s life and the profound love they shared will forever be etched in history.