The Carters spent their earliest days as husband and wife at the Naval base in Norfolk, Va., where Jimmy was gone most of the week on assignments and Rosalynn enjoyed a crash course in homemaking.
Their first child, son John William “Jack” Carter, was born July 3, 1947, so the couple celebrated their first anniversary at the hospital as a family of three. The following year, Jimmy was selected for submarine school in New London, Conn., and finally had regular hours so he could be home each night with his wife and child.
They welcomed son James Earl “Chip” Carter III on April 12, 1950, while they were living in Hawaii. Then it was onto San Diego, Calif., then back to New London—where son Donnel Jeffrey “Jeff” Carter was born Aug. 18, 1952—and then they moved to Schenectady, N.Y., so Jimmy could study nuclear power at Union College.
Rosalynn has said that she planned on being a Navy wife, moving from city to city and seeing the world with her husband. Which she ultimately did, but not in the way she ever would have imagined.
Jimmy was working toward a post on a nuclear submarine, but when his father died in 1953, he took leave and went back to Plains with his wife and sons to look after his family’s peanut farm. Rosalynn hadn’t intended on ending up right back where she started (She was “astounded and furious,” Jimmy wrote in A Full Life), but eventually the Carters’ partnership extended to running the farm, too.
“I knew more on paper about the business than he did,” Rosalynn told the Associated Press in 2021 ahead of their 75th wedding anniversary. “He would take my advice about things.”
By the early 1960s they had acquired 3,200 acres of land and their supply business, Carter’s Warehouse, was a one-stop shop for local farmers.