Rosalynn Carter and Jimmy Carter were married for more than 77 years, and theirs was the longest presidential marriage in U.S. history.
The Carter Center announced Rosalynn Carter’s death at age 96 on November 19, 2023.
In July 2023, their grandson Jason Carter, wrote on X, “Happy 77th Anniversary to my grandparents, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter! They have done so much for so many. We celebrated in Zambia, working with @CarterCenter in their honor.” Their anniversary was July 7.
“Rosalynn was my equal partner in everything I ever accomplished,” President Carter said in a statement released by the Carter Center after Rosalynn died. “She gave me wise guidance and encouragement when I needed it. As long as Rosalynn was in the world, I always knew somebody loved and supported me.”
Here’s what you need to know:
Only 1 Other Presidential Couple Was Married More Than 70 Years
According to POTUS.com, the Carters were married for more than 77 years, making theirs the longest presidential marriage in U.S. history.
Only one other presidential marriage comes close. George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush were married for more than 73 years. After that, seven U.S. presidents were married to their wives for more than 50 years, with Gerald Ford married the longest, at more than 58 years.
The Jimmy Carter Presidential Library wrote on X, “On his 75th birthday President Carter was asked to name the most important thing he had ever done. Without hesitation, he replied, ‘Marrying Rosalynn.'”
One president, James Buchanan, was never married. “The shortest marriage was Theodore Roosevelt and his first wife, Alice, which ended after 3 years 110 days when she passed away from Bright’s disease shortly after the birth of their first child,” POTUS.com reports, adding that only Presidents Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan were divorced. “The average length of the presidents’ marriages is 33 years,” the site reports.
According to an introduction by Richard Ryan at the National Press Club of Rosalynn Carter, “Her good friend was Ruth Carter, who had a brother, Jimmy. Young Rosalynn fell in love with a picture of Jimmy, who was then away attending the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. When Jimmy came home in the summer of 1945, she fell in love with the real thing. After their first date, Jimmy Carter told his mother, Miss Lillian, that he had just gone out with the woman he was going to marry. And he did.”
When the Carters Married in 1946, Jimmy Carter Had Just Graduated From the U.S. Naval Academy
The Carters were married in 1946, according to Rosalynn Carter’s biography on the Carter Center website. “In 1946, she married Jimmy Carter, who had just graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. Mrs. Carter described her years as a Navy wife as a coming of age in which she developed the self-confidence to manage a household with three babies on her own while her husband worked and was often aboard ship,” the bio says.
According to the Carter Center biography for Rosalynn Carter, she “was born Eleanor Rosalynn Smith on August 18, 1927, in Plains, Georgia, daughter of Wilburn Edgar Smith, a farmer who also owned and operated the first auto shop in the county, and Frances Allethea Murray, a college graduate and homemaker. As a child, she was shaped by strong religious and family values and an early acceptance of hard work and responsibility.”
Her father died when she was 13 at the age 44 of leukemia, according to the bio, which says, “Thirteen-year-old Rosalynn helped her mother with the housekeeping and caring for her siblings and grandfather. She graduated as valedictorian from Plains High School in 1944 and from Georgia Southwestern College in 1946.”
The couple had three sons and one daughter. “Three sons were born in different Navy ports: John William “Jack” Carter, July 3, 1947, in Norfolk, Va.; James Earl “Chip” Carter III in Honolulu, Hawaii, on April 12, 1950; and Donnel Jeffrey “Jeff” Carter on August 18, 1952, in New London, Conn. Amy Lynn Carter was born 15 years later on October 19, 1967, in Plains,” the bio says.
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