On a foggy morning in Plains last week, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter held hands as they picked their way across a muddy field toward rows of folding chairs set up in front of a temporary dais. They were there to help celebrate the installation of an innovative solar power project on land belonging to the ex-president and lifelong farmer, whose connection to the earth is palpable.
But nothing compares to his marriage.
“One of the best deals I’ve had in my life has been right behind us,” Carter, 92, told the audience about the land over his shoulder, where he’d once grown soybeans. “But the best of all is when I married Rosalynn 70-something years ago.”
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter seen during their White House years. FILE PHOTO
Seventy years, seven months and one week, to be precise. That's how long the couple — who began life as next-door neighbors in tiny Plains and together rose to the White House and beyond as a global force for good — will have been married come Valentine's Day. In an interview days before their platinum wedding anniversary last July, the Carters discussed the impact of his cancer diagnosis a year earlier (he's now in remission), their slightly different memories of their courtship and where 70 years of marriage lands on their storied shared resume.
“It’s quite an accomplishment, I think,” Rosalynn, now 89, said with quiet satisfaction.
And they're not about to take it for granted now. While they've always given each other space to pursue their own interests and issues, they clearly like being together. Almost as much as we like it, it seems.
Former President Jimmy Carter sneaks a kiss with Rosalynn while the couple was working on a Habitat for Humanity one-day build on Nov. 2, 2015 in Memphis, Tenn. Nine months later, the Carters returned to Memphis in August 2016 to spearhead a weeklong project to build 19 Habitat houses in the city. AJC FILE PHOTO
Last August, they spent five days in the blistering Memphis, Tenn., heat building Habitat for Humanity houses together, their obvious closeness so endearing that even another famous married pair of volunteers who were there, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, marveled at it. Weeks later, at an Atlanta Braves game, the former first couple was caught smooching on Turner Field's giant scoreboard screen.
"Presidential Kiss Cam,"the Braves called it in a Vine that went viral.
Actually, it looked like true love.
Read more about the Carters’ enduring marriage in this 70th wedding anniversary interview on myajc.com/living.
Adam and Janet Guy are shown here in their Cabbagetown loft on Feb. 12, 2012. AJC FILE PHOTO
Childhood sweethearts: Adam and Janet Guy
Adam Guy eagerly gave Janet Caracciolo a hand-carved, cherry red heart on the last day of summer camp in 1986.
He was 11. She was 15.
Guy picked Caracciolo’s name out of a hat at the start of camp in a secret-Santa-style game. They went on hikes, tie-dyed T-shirts and sang camp songs together. Guy could hardly wait to deliver to Caracciolo (now Janet Guy) the heart with her name on it.
“I had a crush. As much as an 11-year-old can have, ” Adam Guy said.
“It was so sweet and so nice, ” Janet Guy recalled. “But I also thought, ‘Uh-oh,’ I have to be careful, he has a crush on me.”
After all, Janet Guy wouldn’t be just a camper the next summer, she’d be a junior counselor at the summer camp in the mountains of western North Carolina.
Adam and Janet Guy originally met as children in summer camp. As part of a kind of Christmas-in-July camp activity, Adam drew her name from a hat and made her a heart, shown here in 2012. Through many moves and life changes, she still had the heart prominently featured on her bedroom dresser, until one day he tracked her down on the internet and they connected again. Now they are married and it hangs on their wall. AJC FILE PHOTO
Adam Guy gave Janet the heart-shaped gift, and she took it home with her.
Fast-forward many years.
They went to college, started careers. He lived in Atlanta. She lived in New York.
And then one day, Adam sent Janet an email out of the blue.
This is going to sound like the most bizarre question … but did you attend Eagle’s Nest Camp in North Carolina about 15 years ago? Sincerely, Adam Guy
Her jaw dropped.
Before long, they were talking to each other on the phone for hours at a time and falling in love.
Guy was no longer the kid that the camp counselors (including Janet) called “Little Adam Guy.” He was 28. She was 32.
Janet moved to Atlanta. Eleven years ago, they got married.
And the red heart?
Everywhere Janet went over the years, she took the heart with her and kept it on her nightstand.
For a while, it hung in the hallway of their Cabbagetown loft. And more recently, the couple moved to New York City — and the heart now prominently hangs in their foyer.
Elaine Read, husband Matt Weyandt and their children, Ronan and Evabelle moved to Costa Rica a few years ago. They are back in Atlanta now and running Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate. CONTRIBUTED
The chocolate couple: Elaine Read and Matt Weyandt
Early in their courtship, Elaine Read and Matt Weyandt backpacked throughout Central America. They always talked about someday returning to Puerto Viejo, a tiny town on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. But life has a way of putting dreams on hold.
However, in February 2013, the couple, along with their two small children, decided to go for it, and move to the jungles of Costa Rica. They wanted more time together as a family, a chance to reboot.
Elaine Read and Matt Weyandt, co-founders of Xocolatl, laugh while working in Atlanta last fall. DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM
One day at the farmers market, they discovered a stand selling locally made bean-to-bar chocolate. They met with farmers and learned about how bean-to-bar chocolate is made. Months later, they returned to Atlanta, and opened up Xocolatl Small Batch Chocolate, which makes small batches of bean-to-bar chocolate with ethically grown ingredients at the onsite micro-factory at Krog Street Market in Atlanta. Read more about this couple's courage to undertake such a dramatic life change and their passion to make the world a better place with chocolate on myajc.com/living.
The History Of Valentine’s Day