No other country couple has inspired more reverent admiration than Johnny Cash and his beloved wife, June Carter Cash. Theirs is a love story of persistence.

The two met backstage at the Grand Ole Opry in 1956. At the time, Carter Cash was singing backup for Elvis Presley, who had turned her on to the Man in Black's music ... but it took her a bit longer to warm up to Cash himself, despite their undeniable attraction (as immortalized in the song "Ring of Fire"). Cash proposed several times before she finally said yes, to a proposal made in front of 7,000 fans at a live show in 1968.

Carter Cash worked to help her husband overcome the drug and alcohol addictions that had a visceral grip on him. She passed away on May 15, 2003, with her husband holding her hand. The "Walk the Line" hitmaker died less than four months later. The couple was married for 35 years and had one son together, John Carter Cash.

At his last public performance in 2003, Cash read a statement he wrote about his late wife shortly before he took the stage. It was a statement of true love.

"The spirit of June Carter overshadows me tonight with the love she had for me and the love I have for her. We connect somewhere between here and heaven," it read. "She came down for a short visit, I guess, from heaven to visit with me tonight to give me courage and inspiration like she always has."

This story was originally written by Deborah Evans-Price, and revised by Christina Vinson.

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