Rosalynn Carter's kids deliver emotional messages at tribute service: 'I will always love my mother'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Former first lady Rosalynn Carter's children and grandchildren — and even some great-grandchildren — honored her at her tribute service on Nov. 28.

Former President Jimmy Carter, who has been in hospice care at home since February, also made a rare public appearance to say goodbye to his wife of 77 years at the service, held at Glenn Memorial Church on the campus of Emory University in Atlanta.

Former US President Jimmy Carter arrives for a tribute service for former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images)
Former US President Jimmy Carter arrives for a tribute service for former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images)

The couple's four children sat alongside their father in the church's front pews.

One of the pair's three sons, James "Chip" Carter, delivered a welcome message and shared memories of his late mother, who died at the age of 96 on Nov. 19.

"I will always love my mother. I will cherish how she and Dad raised their children. They've given us such a great example of how a couple should relate," Chip Carter said during the service.

James
James

Chip Carter was photographed giving his father a tender kiss on the head at the service.

The couple’s only daughter, Amy Carter, was also on hand to speak about her late mother, as was grandson Jason Carter. A few of Rosalynn Carter's great-grandchildren offered readings of Scripture.

Amy Carter read a letter her dad wrote 75 years ago to his wife, which included the lines, "When I see you, I fall in love with you all over again. Does that seem strange to you? It doesn't to me."

Amy Carter speaks during a tribute service for former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images)
Amy Carter speaks during a tribute service for former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds / AFP via Getty Images)

The Carters, who celebrated their 77th wedding anniversary in July, were the longest-married couple in presidential history.

During their marriage, the Carters welcomed four children: sons John (also known as Jack), 76; James (aka Chip), 73; and Donnel (aka Jeff), 71; and daughter Amy, 56. They shared nearly a dozen grandchildren and even more great-grandchildren.

Born on Oct. 1, 1924, Jimmy Carter ventured far and high from his roots in the small, dusty town of Plains, Georgia. Throughout his political career, Carter set his focus on energy conservation, education and the expansion of human rights. All the while, he held tightly onto his regard for family, and he notoriously relied on the support of his wife to propel and sustain his efforts. As a result, Carter's marriage and family life have been a point of admiration, especially for the younger members of his family.

In August, the couple's grandson Josh Carter spoke about the close-knit dynamic the couple were able to create for the large family in an interview with People.

“Every year, we got together our entire family and would go somewhere amazing," he told the outlet, adding, "And those family trips are one of my most cherished memories.”

Read on to learn about Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's children and grandchildren.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's children

The Carters, who met when Jimmy Carter was 3 and Rosalynn Carter just a newborn, married in 1946 shortly after the future president graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy.

The military couple's early years together were spent on Navy bases in Norfolk, Virginia; Honolulu; and San Diego.

Governor Jimmy Carter, the 1976 Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States, right, and his wife Rosalynn Carter, left, acknowledge the cheers of the delegates following their acceptance speeches at the 1976 Democratic Convention. (MediaPunch Inc  / Alamy )
Governor Jimmy Carter, the 1976 Democratic Party nominee for President of the United States, right, and his wife Rosalynn Carter, left, acknowledge the cheers of the delegates following their acceptance speeches at the 1976 Democratic Convention. (MediaPunch Inc / Alamy )

They welcomed three sons, Jack, Chip and Jeff, from 1947 to 1952, and their only daughter, Amy, in 1967.

Jimmy Carter entered into politics in the early 1960s, first serving as a Georgia state senator from 1963 until 1967 and later as governor of Georgia from 1971 until 1975. He served as president from 1977 until 1981.

Here's a look at the family they created.

John "Jack" Carter, 76

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's son Jack Carter in 2006. (Laura Rauch / AP)
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's son Jack Carter in 2006. (Laura Rauch / AP)

Born in 1947, the Carters' oldest child, Jack Carter, followed his father into politics. He was the 2006 Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Nevada, but lost in the general election.

He had son Jason and daughter Sarah with his first wife, Judy Langford. The couple divorced and Carter went on to marry Elizabeth Brasfield — who was mother to John and Sarah Chuldenko.

James “Chip” Carter, 73

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's son Chip Carter in 2021. (John Bazemore / AP)
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's son Chip Carter in 2021. (John Bazemore / AP)

James Earl “Chip” Carter III was born in 1950 in Honolulu. According to a 2008 interview with Chip Carter compiled in the "Reflections on Georgia Politics oral history collection," the president's son spoke about being involved in his father's political career at the age of 16.

"I had a congressional district they assign me and I would stop in every single store I saw and give out a brochure and tell them to vote for my father and I got $22.00 a week for expenses, plus a gas credit card," he recalled.

Chip Carter mourned the death of his mother following news of her passing.

“Besides being a loving mother and extraordinary First Lady, my mother was a great humanitarian in her own right,” he said in a statement through the Carter Center. “Her life of service and compassion was an example for all Americans. She will be sorely missed not only by our family but by the many people who have better mental health care and access to resources for caregiving today.”

Donnel “Jeff” Carter, 71

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's son Donnel Jeffrey
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's son Donnel Jeffrey

Donnel Jeffrey “Jeff” Carter was born in 1952. He would go on to create a company called Computer Mapping Consultants and marry wife Annette Davis, with whom he had three kids, one of whom died in 2015. Annette died in 2021.

The couple met on the first day of school at Georgia Southwestern State University in the early 1970s.

“Jeff saw her across the student center while he was playing spades, and he told his friends to turn around and look at that pretty girl that just walked in. He told them he was going to marry her, and four years later he did,” their son Josh said in an obituary for his mom.

Amy Carter, 56

Rosalynn Carter, Jimmy Carter and their daughter Amy Carter in 2009 (Susan Walsh / AP)
Rosalynn Carter, Jimmy Carter and their daughter Amy Carter in 2009 (Susan Walsh / AP)

Born in 1967, Amy Carter is the Carters' youngest child and lone daughter. She was a familiar face in the White House while her father was president. Amy Carter also gained notoriety for her political activism, getting arrested in 1986 for protesting CIA recruitment at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She would later be acquitted of trespassing and disorderly conduct.

She was also arrested in 1985 during an anti-apartheid demonstration at the South African embassy.

"I’m proud to be my father’s daughter," she told reporters before she was placed in a police car, according to The New York Times at the time.

"When I decided to do it this morning, I called home and they said it was OK," she also said.

She would later go on to illustrate her father's 1995 book, "The Little Baby Snoogle-Fleejer."

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter’s grandchildren

Jimmy Carter,  Rosalynn Carter, Allie Smith, Amy Carter, Chip Carter, Chuck Smith, Caron carter, James Earl Carter IV, Murray Smith (AP)
Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter, Allie Smith, Amy Carter, Chip Carter, Chuck Smith, Caron carter, James Earl Carter IV, Murray Smith (AP)

The couple's four children have gone on to have children — and stepchildren — of their own.

Jason Carter

Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate Jason Carter Meets With Constituents (Chris McKay / Getty Images)
Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate Jason Carter Meets With Constituents (Chris McKay / Getty Images)

The Carters' oldest grandchild, Jason Carter, is the son of Jack Carter and his first wife, Judy Langford, the daughter of Georgia state Sen. James Beverly Langford.

Keeping up a family tradition on both sides, Jason Carter, who earned his law degree from the University of Georgia law school in 2004, entered politics to serve as Georgia state senator from 2010 until 2015. In 2014, the father of two was the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia, but lost in the general election. He also sits on the board of trustees for the Carter Center.

Sarah Carter

The daughter of Jack Carter and Judy Langford, Sarah Carter was born in 1978 and has her handprints in the White House Children's Garden. She is married to Brendan Keith Murphy, with whom she has a daughter, according to E!

"As a strong and principled woman in her public life, she has been a role model for millions of women," she told the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer in 2004 about her grandmother Rosalynn.

"But I have the advantage of knowing her in her private life. While my grandfather may be better known as a statesman, my grandmother is the diplomat and peacemaker within our family. She ... tries to make sure that everyone has what they need, but gets embarrassed if she gets the credit she deserves. She is someone who is delighted when everyone is having a good time. She is also someone who will say so if something is not right. She may say it quietly and in private, but there will be no mistaking it. I like to think that I’m a little bit like her.”  

James Carter, son of Chip

James Carter is the son of Chip Carter and Chip's ex-wife Caron Carter. In February 2023, shortly after it was announced his grandfather would be placed in hospice care, he shared a clip of him and his wife, Sally, appearing to entertain him and his grandmother.

"We are all juggling a lot lately," he wrote on Twitter. "But yesterday my wife and I got to juggle for my grandparents. They loved it."

Josh Carter

In August, Josh Carter told People that the younger Carter family members had been visiting the ailing former president and his wife at their Plains home.

"My grandparents have always been the entertainers,” said the doting grandson. “But now we’re kind of the ones having to entertain. It’s different, it’s just a different era.”

“We used to get together every year for New Year’s,” he recalled of a tradition the tightknit family followed for decades until the COVID-19 pandemic began. “Every year we got together our entire family and would go somewhere amazing. ... And those family trips are one of my most cherished memories.”

Jeremy Carter

Jeremy Carter was born in 1987 and died suddenly in 2015 at 28, just two weeks after Jimmy Carter announced his brain cancer was gone. He was the son of Annette and Jeff Carter. The former president, who was 91 at the time, made headlines after he taught Sunday school only hours after Jeremy Carter had died.

Margaret Carter

Margaret Carter, who was born in 1987, is the daughter of Chip Carter and his second wife, Ginger Hodges. She keeps a low profile and is married with a daughter, according to E!

James Carter, son of Jeff

James Carter is the son of Jeff and Annette Carter. He was born in 1991 and reportedly married wife Anna in 2021 after they had a daughter named Rayna in 2019.

Hugo Wentzel

The son of Amy Carter and James Wentzel, Hugo Wentzel was born in 1999. Earlier this year, he appeared on the ABC reality show "Claim to Fame."

“He’s an amazing grandpa, honestly. I love him so much. I call him Papa,” Wentzel said. “He led America and my family very well. I stand for everything he stands for. He believes in equality for everyone, regardless of race, class, gender, anything. He’s an amazing person. I aspire to be like him one day.”

He also referenced his grandfather being in hospice care while on the show.

"You are amazing and I will do everything I can to keep your legacy alive," he added.

Errol Carter Kelly

Errol Kelly is Amy Carter's son with husband Jay Kelly. Not much is known about Errol, although he did attend the Plains Peanut Festival when he was 5 in 2015, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where his grandfather was greeting visitors.

In 2022, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter joined Errol and his Boy Scout troop during a walk at Jimmy Carter National Historic Park in Plains.

"Errol spent a good portion of the walk making sure his grandmother was able to walk steadily down the paved trail," Aaron on Scouting reported.

Errol offered a Scripture reading at Rosalynn Carter's tribute service.

John Chuldenko

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's grandson John Chuldenko (Marcus Ingram / WireImage)
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter's grandson John Chuldenko (Marcus Ingram / WireImage)

Following his divorce from first wife Judy Langford, Jack Carter married Elizabeth Brasfield, which made him the stepfather of her two children, John Chuldenko and Sarah Chuldenko Reynolds.

John Chuldenko is a screenwriter and director. He is the creator of the television series "Backseat Drivers" and wrote the 2002 TV movie "M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs of Fear."

In 2022, Chuldenko told NPR he was working with the Recording Industry Association of America on a project to update the White House’s secret collection of music records. He explained he learned of the collection from his uncle Jeff Carter while on a family vacation.

Chuldenko is married and has two children with his wife, according to a 2022 article about his family.

Sarah Chuldenko Reynolds

Sarah Chuldenko Reynolds is an artist who received an MFA in painting from the New York Academy of Art and lives and works in Los Angeles, according to her website. She collaborated with her stepgrandfather Jimmy Carter to illustrate his 1990s volume of his poetry "Always a Reckoning and Other Poems." She shares two children with her husband, fellow artist Stephen Reynolds, per her website.

This article was originally published on TODAY.com