The one who got away is remembered by the majority of people. It’s possible they met in college. Maybe it was a mutual acquaintance, a neighbor, or someone from work. Jeannie Gustavson, now 68 years old, has spent the most of her life remembering the one who got away, or, more properly, the one she let go.

Jeannie Gustavson and Steve Watts met at Loyola University in Chicago when she was 18 and he was 21, and began dating.

His family disapproved of interracial dating, so they had to keep their relationship hidden for seven years. Despite their splitting forty-two years ago, Jeannie, now 68, has never forgotten the man.

Jeannie believed they still loved one another after decades apart, and their recent “miracle” reunion revealed Steve felt the same. Jennifer Gustavson: “I loved him very much when we were younger and I knew he loved me. But it wasn’t until all of this and we’ve been talking, I didn’t know how much he loved me. I really didn’t know.”

He is “handsome, extremely intelligent, witty and quite charming with a killer smile,” Jeannie recalls her undergraduate lover Steve. Her family was “not understanding or tolerant” of their relationship as a mixed-race couple in the 1970s.

“I was very hurt and very baffled by what my family did and said,” Jeannie remembered. “We had to keep our relationship a secret.” Steven studied education and became a German teacher after graduating in 1975.

After nearly eight years of dating, Jeannie broke up with him over the phone owing to job, distance, and clashing schedules, and has regretted it ever since.

Jeanie: “I regretted what I did after I did it, it was almost immediate. I mean I knew I shouldn’t have ended the relationship the way I did but at that point I didn’t know what else to do.”

Jeannie later married and then divorced someone else, but stated she never forgot Steve. Late last year, Jeannie started looking for him online, hoping for a second chance or an apology.

Her recent post: “Forty two years later, retired, with a computer and nothing but time on my hands, could I find him? Could I apologize? Could we be friends?”

Her seven-month search for him ended when she contacted his niece, who informed her Steve was in a Chicago nursing facility and provided her the location.

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