Mark Bethel and Penny Umbers | Source: Twitter.com/MailOnline
Mark Bethel and Penny Umbers | Source: Twitter.com/MailOnline

Couple Separated as Teenagers Because of Their Skin Reunite and Fall in Love Again 40 Years Later

Lois Oladejo
Oct 30, 2021
05:00 P.M.

Forty years after being separated due to their racial differences, a pair of star-crossed lovers reunited, receiving a second chance to eternalize their love.


When she was only a teenager, Penny Umbers was forced to give up the love of her life, Mark Bethel, because of racism. Four decades later, she was giving up something else to embrace the love she once lost.

The 61-year-old, who worked as an executive assistant, confirmed her decision to give up her life in the UK and ultimately her job, to be with the man she had always loved in the Bahamas. But theirs was not always the picture-perfect fairy tale romance.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexel

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexel


Umbers and Bethel fell head over heels for each other while attending high school as teenagers back in the 70s. They met for the first time after Bethel moved from Nassau to the UK to board at a public school near Nottingham.

Umbers, who was sixteen and attended an elite private school, fell for him in no time, kicking off a beautiful relationship. After high school, they made it into separate universities in London but strived to keep their relationship afloat.

It all crumbled down one fateful day when Umbers’ dad visited her beau in college, threatening to have people at the higher-ups revoke his scholarship.

The only way to escape that fate was to end his relationship with his high school sweetheart. To make things worse, Bethel’s parents also frowned against his relationship with a white girl, issuing similar threats.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexel

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexel

Eventually, they withdrew their financial support, leaving the college undergrad at a crossroads. In the end, the tourism management student knew there was only one way out, prompting him to make the hardest decision of his life. The 62-year-old explained:


“I didn’t have much power. I was 3000 miles from home in a foreign country. I was totally dependent on my scholarship. I had to make the hardest decision of my life[...].”

It was a heartbreaking moment for the two lovers who could not stand being apart. Bethel picked up his broken pieces and forged ahead, determined to make his sacrifice worth it. The man eventually graduated and became a world-renowned hotel manager.

Umbers, on the other hand, found it difficult to recover, eventually dropping out of college. Two divorces later, she stumbled upon the love of her life again, only looking older, more successful, and a far cry from the scared college kid.

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels

For illustration purposes only. | Source: Pexels


Luckily, he was still single, having lived through one failed marriage. The man admitted he spent the last four decades in search of his first love to no avail as she changed her name after marriage.

His search came to an end in 2019 when he came across a picture on Facebook that looked oddly familiar. He messaged the account holder to enquire if she was Penny.

Soon after receiving his confirmation, they rekindled old flames. Again, their romance encountered another obstacle in the guise of the coronavirus pandemic, which kept them apart for the next eighteen months.

They finally reunited physically, immediately realizing they needed to get married as soon as possible to reclaim their lost decades.

Bethel popped the big question right at the airport and received a “yes.” The two have since written a book, “39 Years In The Wilderness,” to share their story with the world and create awareness about the harsh realities of racism.

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