Reunions
Woman forced to end her interracial relationship with love of her life tracks him down 42 years later
They met in 1971 when less than 1% of marriages were interracial.
Marilyn Caylor
10.27.22

Most people wouldn’t think of a nursing home as the perfect spot to meet your soulmate.

But that’s exactly where Jeannie Gustavson found hers, and she didn’t hesitate in bringing a stroke-ridden senior with an amputated leg back to her place 2000 miles away!

YouTube - KGW News
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YouTube - KGW News

Jeannie had lived with enough regrets in her life, including the one that had been weighing heavily on her for 42 long years.

She had a boyfriend in college, Stephen Watts, who was an absolute dream. He was 6-foot-4, a German major like her, and smart as a whip!

And then she had to go and mess it all up.

YouTube - KGW News
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YouTube - KGW News

“He was very striking,” Jeannie told PEOPLE. “Extremely handsome, dressed impeccably, always a gentleman – everything you’d want in a boyfriend.”

The only problem was, the college sweethearts were a young, interracial couple in 1971 Chicago.

YouTube - KGW News
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YouTube - KGW News

When Jeannie first met Steve at Loyola University, they were still hot on the heels of the civil rights movement. In 1970 less than 1% of all marriages were interracial, and before 1967 it wasn’t even legal to do so in every state.

Unfortunately, people’s beliefs don’t change as quickly as the laws do.

Jeannie’s mom was against the pairing and went ballistic when she found out Steve was black.

YouTube - KGW News
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YouTube - KGW News

So, the two kept their relationship a secret for nearly 8 years.

The difficulties started after Jeannie graduated from nursing school and she had to work extended shifts with a long commute. Steve didn’t have a car, so they saw each other less and less.

They entertained the idea of getting married, but a happy ending during that time in history didn’t seem possible.

YouTube - KGW News
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YouTube - KGW News

Jeannie also knew that if married Steve, she’d never see her family again. So she made the difficult decision to end it one evening while standing at her nurse’s station.

She phoned him to say, “I love you, but I just can’t do this.”

He was crushed and responded with silence. She immediately regretted her decision but didn’t know what else to do.

YouTube - KGW News
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YouTube - KGW News

The two hadn’t spoken for decades, but then last year, the divorced retiree (whose mom was dead and out of the picture) decided to track down her one true love.

Jeannie finally find him holed up in a Chicago nursing home, where had hadn’t had a single visitor in 10 years.

When she flew there for a surprise meeting, he recognized her instantly and started to cry.

YouTube - KGW News
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YouTube - KGW News

They spent the next hour and a half talking, crying, and discovering that both of them were single.

“I knew at that moment that he still loved me and this time it was gonna be forever.”

Now they’re trying to make up for 42 lost years.

YouTube - KGW News
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YouTube - KGW News

During their short time together, Jeannie learned that Steve has lived a life of adventure! He earned a masters in linguistics and then taught at the college level in Germany.

He then joined the French Foreign Legion as a paratrooper before returning to the U.S. to work as a translator (he speaks 5 languages).

Sadly, Steve became homeless when his sister passed away. He checked himself into a nursing home after spending 3 years on the mean streets of Chicago.

YouTube - KGW News
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YouTube - KGW News

Fast forward 18 years later, when his former flame suddenly waltzes through the door!

Even though Steve has suffered through two strokes and has difficulty speaking, he can still make Jeannie laugh!

YouTube - KGW News
Source:
YouTube - KGW News

It took 42 years longer than it should have, but the guy finally gets the girl and they are now living their happily ever after.

Watch how their endearing love story unfolds in the video below.

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By Marilyn Caylor
[email protected]
Marilyn Caylor is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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