Atlanta — Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter celebrated their 77th wedding anniversary with a quiet Friday at their South Georgia home, extending their record as the longest-married first couple ever as the two not-so-young significant other Have to face health challenges.
The 39th president is 98 and has been under home hospital care since February. The former first lady is 95 and has dementia. The Carter family has not provided details about Jimmy or Rosalynn Carter’s condition, but has said that they both have enjoyed time with each other and have occasionally been close to family members in recent months. Have met friends too.
Grandson Jason Carter recently said, “As we’ve lived through his legacy, it’s been truly wonderful to see the outpouring of support, respect and love.” “The word love is really what defines their personal relationship, of course, but also their attitude towards this world.”
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have been together on the American and international stage for half a century. What he described as a “full partnership” preceded his political career in the Carter family agricultural business and his decades of global humanitarian work since leaving the White House in 1981 and establishing The Carter Center the following year Was.
Through the center, Jimmy Carter conducted a number of diplomatic missions, working with the blessings of his Oval Office successors, even as he sometimes ranked them. Former presidents and staff at the Center have overseen at least 114 elections in Asia, Africa and the Americas since 1989. He has recently turned his efforts towards the US elections.
Amidst his public health outreach, the center’s Guinea worm eradication program has almost won a victory over the water-borne parasite prevalent in the developing world. Known cases numbered in the millions in the mid-1980s when Jimmy Carter aimed to eliminate Guinea worm disease. There were fewer than two dozen cases in 2022 and, as of early this spring, the center had yet to record a single case in 2023.
Meanwhile, Rosalynn Carter has taken her signature policy issue – mental health treatment and advocacy – beyond the White House and established an annual fellowship for journalists to focus on mental health reporting. She also advocated widely for better services for caregivers, which the Carter family highlighted earlier this year when they announced the former first lady had dementia.
Beyond the Carter Center, the couple became the best-known volunteers of Habitat for Humanity, an international organization that builds, repairs and renovates homes for low-income people. Carters first volunteered for Habitat in 1984 and took a bus from Georgia to the New York City job site with other volunteers. They will soon begin hosting annual productions bearing the former president’s name, with volunteers dressed in hardhats from the late 80s and early 90s.
“Everything he’s done is really an extension of what he started and who he was in the White House,” said Donna Brazile, former chair of the Democratic Party. “Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are nice, decent people.”
The Carters married on July 7, 1946, in their hometown of Plains. But their relationship extends to the cradle.
Jimmy Carter’s parents were friends of Rosalyn’s parents. The future president’s mother was the nurse who delivered Eleanor Rosalyn Smith at the Smith family home in 1927. “Miss Lillian” returned to the Smith home a few days later with her older son, preschooler Jimmy, to meet the new baby. Shortly afterwards the Carters moved to a farm in nearby Archery, just outside Plains, although the Carter children and the Smith children continued to visit each other at Plains School.
Rosalyn would become close friends with Jimmy’s sister, Ruth, who played matchmaker during her older brother’s homecoming from the US Naval Academy. Jimmy and Rosalyn marry soon after graduation. They left the grounds with no intention other than to return as visitors. But in 1953, James Earl Carter Sr. died, leaving behind his family’s farming and warehousing enterprise. Without consulting Roslin, the young lieutenant decides to leave the Navy and move his young family back to Georgia.
The future president, who became an advocate of women’s rights and nominated more women and non-white people to federal positions than any of his predecessors, later called it implausible that he did not consult his wife. Yet in the years to come, Rosalyn Carter became a major partner in the family business.
She told The Associated Press in a joint interview with her husband before their 75th anniversary in 2021, “I knew more about business on paper than he did. He would consult me about things.”
This continued in politics, as Rosalyn Carter proved herself to be a skilled campaigner and forceful policy advocate, overcoming her youthful shyness, which the former president reflected in her writing and painting.
In the interview he said, “My wife is too political.”
In addition to their longevity, both Carters attribute their long marriage to open communication and their shared Christian faith.
The former president said in 2021, “Reconciliation is needed every day.” “We don’t go to sleep with some differences between us.”
The pair have enjoyed the hobby together for years – sometimes even competitively. Before becoming impoverished, they enjoyed playing tennis, hiking, and bicycling together. Both prolific writers, they sometimes raced to complete drafts of books. Fishing often involved competition, and he continued to fish well into his 90s on his property in the Plains. In recent decades, when his physical movements have slowed down, he has added bird watching to it.
To all their general happiness, Rosalyn Carter added another component of a successful marriage. “Everyone should have some space,” he said. “It’s really important.”