President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, prior to a game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on September 30, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Photo: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Photo: Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter celebrate 73rd wedding anniversary

This year has been quite the roller-coaster ride for Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.

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Up: In March, he earned the title of oldest living former president, passing George H.W. Bush.

Down: They each broke a hip, she in April; he in May, just three weeks later.

Up: In June, the former president was finally granted tenure at Emory Unversity after teaching there 37 years.

And the exciting loop: Sunday, the Carters celebrate their 73rd wedding anniversary.

On July 7, 1946, Jimmy Carter, 21, and Rosalynn Smith, 18, got married at Plains Methodist Church, in their hometown.

Since then, they have lived in the Georgia Governor’s Mansion and the White House. 

They founded the Carter Center in 1982, with a mission to advance peace and improve health worldwide.

In 1999, then-President Bill Clinton awarded Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter have done more good things for more people in more places than any other couple on the face of the Earth,” Clinton said when presenting the medal.

Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 "for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development."

She has been an advocate for mental health for 48 years, “and I plan to make it to 50," the former first lady said last year during the annual Rosalynn Carter Georgia Mental Health Forum.

The couple built a family — sons Jack, James and Donnel; and daughter Amy. And they built hundreds of houses for needy families through their work with Habitat for Humanity.

In 2015, the Carters faced the real possibility they would observe no anniversaries starting with a seven.

Doctors had discovered cancer in the former president’s liver and brain, he thought they might not reach that rare benchmark. 

“We thought life was over for me. I think that having been together for 69 years obviously made it easier for us to weather that storm of emotions,” Jimmy Carter said in 2016.

Now, they mark 73 years together — 73 years of accomplishments that might not have happened if he were not persistent. As Jimmy Carter tells it, his first marriage proposal was rejected.

But she eventually said yes, and the rest, quite literally, is history.

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