© 2021 254 North Front Street, Suite 300, Wilmington, NC 28401 | 910.343.1640
News Classical 91.3 Wilmington 92.7 Wilmington 96.7 Southport
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Longest Presidential Marriage In U.S. History Turns 75 Today

Former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn prior to the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Former president Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn prior to the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Updated July 7, 2021 at 2:58 PM ET

They met when he was 3 and she was a day old. And on Wednesday, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter are celebrating 75 years of marriage — the longest marriage in presidential history.

The pair grew up just three miles apart in Plains, Ga. Jimmy's mother was a nurse who helped care for Rosalynn.

In a town without too many boys, Rosalynn soon became best friends with Jimmy's younger sister.

"I thought he was the most handsome young man I had ever seen," she wrote in her memoir, "First Lady from Plains."

Their first date

The pair went on their first date in 1945 when he was 20 and she was 17. He was home from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. And she'd finished her first year at Georgia Southwestern College.

They can't remember what movie they saw, but what Jimmy did remember was falling in love. He recalled that feeling in a poem he wrote in his 1995 book, "Always a Reckoning":

"I'd pay to sit behind her, blind to

what was on the screen, and watch the image flicker

upon her hair."

Soon after, Jimmy told his mother, "She's the girl I want to marry."

The next year, they did. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

U.S. President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter dance at a White House Congressional Ball, Washington, D.C., on December 13, 1978.
Universal History Archive / Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
/
U.S. President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter dance at a White House Congressional Ball, Washington, D.C., on December 13, 1978.

Their long and eventful journey

Jimmy Carter, 96, went on to become the governor of Georgia, then the president of the United States and then a Nobel laureate. Rosalynn Carter, 93, worked tirelessly to de-stigmatize mental illness.

In 2019, the couple became the longest married couple in presidential history when they bested the record held by the late George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush, who were married for 73 years.

The Carters plan to mark their anniversary Wednesday with an evening at home in Plains. Friends and family will gather Saturday for an anniversary party at their old high school.

Through it all, time hasn't diminished their love. As Jimmy wrote in the same poem:

"With shyness gone and hair caressed with gray,

her smile still makes the birds forget to sing and

me to hear their song."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.