More Links in News & Events

Rosalynn Carter's Remarks at The Carter Center's 90th Birthday Celebration for Former President Jimmy Carter

I have already seen the butterfly garden, and I'd like to thank everybody who made that possible. And the movie, and I'm sentimental already. I have known Jimmy Carter for most of my life — I think for all of my life except when I was very small. He likes to say that he was my next-door neighbor when I was born, and he looked through the bars on the cradle and saw me. I didn't recognize him then.

When I was growing up, Jimmy's sister, Ruth, was my best friend. I was in and out of their house a lot, but I don't remember seeing Jimmy around very much. He was three years older than I am, and as I got older, and he was 16, a senior in high school, I was his little sister's friend.... no connection at all.

I never, ever dreamed that I might go with him someday.

Well, fast forward to the time I graduated from Georgia Southwestern, which was a junior college in Americus. Jimmy was home on leave that summer. It was the summer before he would be a first classman at the Naval Academy.

And by that time, I was really interested in him, and Ruth and I conspired to try to get me together with him. She would call and say, "He's at home. Come out here. C'mon." I would get there, and he'd be gone.

But the night before he was to supposed to go back to the Naval Academy, I was standing on the steps of our church waiting for a youth meeting to begin, and he rode up in the car with Ruth and her boyfriend, got out and asked me to go to a movie with them. Of course, I left the meeting, and went to the movie! Don't ask me what it was about. I have not the slightest idea!

I do remember that we rode in the rumble seat of the car, if anybody's old enough to still know what that was.

...And the rest is history. He asked me to marry him. I turned him down. I had promised my father on his death bed that I would finish college. But Jimmy was persistent.

That is the beginning of a wonderful romance and, I can say, of 68 exciting, loving, interesting, unpredictable, challenging ....and I could go on....years.

And over the years, we became not only friends and lovers, but partners. Early in our marriage, we developed respect for what the other could do.

The first two years with Jimmy were in the Navy, and we lived in Norfolk. He was gone all week. Well, he was gone during the week, and then, on the weekend, he stood duty one night on the ship. I was very young, far away from home, had a baby after the first year, and I had to do everything. He was not very concerned about that. He thought I could do it...and so I did it.

He has always thought I could do anything, and because of that, I, and we, have had some wonderful adventures....and challenges.

I ran the business at home when he was in the state Senate. I had my own programs when he was governor.

He has always set high goals for himself...I think most of you can agree with that. He even thought he could be president of the United States and that I would be a good campaigner. I was in 48 states.

And he is inquisitive. He wants to know everything — and not just know about it; he wants to experience it.

We learned to downhill ski when I was 59 and he was 62. We climbed mountains. We climbed in Nepal. We climbed Mount Fuji. I became a fly fisher. He was already a fly fisher, but I wanted to learn because we do these things together. Fly fisher. Birder.

Well, there have been some glitches now and then. When he got out of the Navy, I was having a good time seeing the world. I didn't want to come home. I protested. …We came home. And it turned out to be one of the best decisions we ever made.

And another time when we tried to write a book together...that was a disaster. We'll never do that again. We couldn't even talk to each other. We wrote ugly letters back and forth on our word processors.

Well, the glitches all together are very small. They get lost in the good life we have, with a wonderful and growing family. He is a good father, good grandfather, good great-grandfather.

And I am proud of him. I'm proud that he stands for human rights and peace all over the world. I'm proud of the work of The Carter Center, which has developed to become one of the most admired and respected institutions, not only nationally, but internationally.

And that's because of you who are here today. There's no way we could do what we do without you, our staff and our friends. You are the life blood of The Carter Center.

So, what's going to be next? One thing I know, it'll be something, because Jimmy Carter is miserable if he's not doing something.

And I think now, his mind is on women.

Happy birthday, Jimmy!

Donate Now

Sign Up For Email

Please sign up below for important news about the work of The Carter Center and special event invitations.

Please leave this field empty
Now, we invite you to Get Involved
Back To Top