Woman Finally Marries “True Love” 43 Years After Her Mother Forced Her to End Interracial Relationship
How’s this for true love?
It’s a tale as old as time: boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, parents disapprove and keep the lovers apart.
These ill-fated love stories usually end before tapping into their true potential. However, one couple found themselves writing an alternate ending to their tragic love story; where they reunited in their old age and spend their golden years together.
How far would you go to marry the love of your life? Even if it took nearly five decades.
In their annual LOVE issue, PEOPLE magazine featured a pair of college sweethearts who had been pressured to end their interracial relationship in the 1970s.
Jeanne Gustavson and Stephen Watts dated for seven years after meeting at Loyola University in Chicago. Stephen — who is black — was a senior when they met, while Jeanne — who is white — was a freshman. They were both German majors (Stephen was actually the president of the German club) and sparks flew as soon as they met…
“He was very striking. Extremely handsome, dressed impeccably, always a gentleman — everything you’d want in a boyfriend,'” recalled Jeanne.
Unfortunately, the two couldn’t make their relationship last. Jeanne lived with her mother who was vehemently against her daughter’s interracial relationship. She never shied away from making her opinion clear to Jeanne, even going to the dean of the university to try and end their budding relationship. Nevertheless, Jeanne secretly continued to see her love for seven years. Eventually, the pressure broke her down, and the couple split up. She ended it over the phone while she was at work.
“I was completely overwhelmed by everything,” she admits. “The family issue was always weighing on me because it fractured the relationship between my mother and myself forever. She was always my mother and I always loved her, but it affected our relationship for the rest of my life.”
How the Couple Found Each Other Again — Over 40 Years Later
After 43 years apart, Jeanne was divorced, retired, and ready to find love again. She didn’t want to meet just anyone, though. She wanted to reconnect with Stephen.
From her home in Oregon, she searched for him on social media. After many weeks, her search came up empty– there was no trace of him online. Nevertheless, she was determined to find him and make things right. She searched high and low, then eventually found a mailing address for Stephen’s niece. She wrote her a letter explaining the situation and asking to be connected with her love.
“She told me he was in a nursing home, and that’s something I had never in a million years imagined,” says Jeanne.
After calling the nursing home and writing Stephen letters without any response, she became nervous that something was seriously wrong with his health. She made the decision to go see him in person.
“Being a nurse, immediately, I started thinking of different things that might be wrong with him, where he couldn’t write to me. I made a decision to go to Chicago to see Steve. I had to have a resolution.”
Deep down, Jeanne also wanted to know if he forgave her, and if he was married. In her heart, she knew she wanted to rekindle their love.
Nothing Would Stop Them This Time
Jeanne made her way to Chicago and knocked on Stephen’s door. He recognized her as soon as he saw her and burst into tears.
Physically, Stephen was worse for wear, but Jeanne wasn’t deterred. In fact, they were as in love with each other as ever.
“I knew he still loved me. I just knew,” she says. “We spent the next hour and a half together, and he clung onto my arm with a death grip. We talked, we cried and we found out that neither one of us was married at this point and we still loved each other.”
One year later, the two were finally married.
“She is beautiful. She is wonderful. She is my heart and soul. I love her.”Stephen Watts
Now, Jeanne is named Jeanne Watts.
“We can spend the rest of our lives together making plans. I gladly took his last name,” says Jeanne. “I’ve wanted it for a long time.”