The Long and Winding Road
Former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter are celebrating 75 years of marriage on Wednesday, the longest marriage in U.S. presidential history. "They will probably just sit and hold hands," Jill Stuckey, a friend and neighbor, tells The Washington Post. This weekend, though, the Carters will celebrate with about 300 guests at an anniversary party at the high school in gym in Plains, Georgia, they small town where they live and where they met nearly 100 years ago.
Jimmy Carter, 96, was 3 years old when he first saw the infant Eleanor Rosalynn Smith, who lived next door. Rosalynn Carter, now 93, was friends with Jimmy's younger sister, Ruth, and she had a crush on him when they were teenagers and he was at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. "Ruth and I had been trying to get me together with him," Rosalynn told the Post in 2018.
Jimmy Carter was home from Annapolis in July 1945 and driving around Plains with his sister and her boyfriend when they saw Rosalynn in front of the United Methodist Church. "Rosie was in front of the church, right there, and I asked her for a date," Jimmy Carter told the Post. They went to a movie, and the next morning he told his mother he would marry Rosalynn. He asked her at Christmas, six months later, and she said no, but she changed her mind a few weeks later. They were married at the United Methodist Church in Plains on July 7, 1946, when he was 21 and she 18.
The Post asked Jimmy Carter if he thought their marriage was always meant to be. "I do, yeah," he said. "I've always thought that."
But their marriage changed over the years and with the times, from a "father-knows-best" arrangement in the 1940s and '50s to an equal partnership by the time Jimmy Carter was elected Georgia governor in 1970. "Dad started to change when he ran for governor, because Mom was a much better politician than he was," their son Chip Carter told the Post. "She cared about him getting elected and reelected, and he cared about the Panama Canal."
After Jimmy Carter lost re-election in 1980, the couple — still in their 50s — moved back to Plains and embarked on a life of service and adventure. Read more about their long marriage at The Washington Post.