72 Years Later: The Love Reunion of Charles and Betty

Published 10:21 am Wednesday, May 10, 2023

After 72 years, Picayune Native Charles Manberg has reunited once again with his long-lost sweetheart Betty Sue of Greensboro, NC. These couples would have never gotten the opportunity to see each other if it wasn’t for a random bond between two men at a Picayune Waffle House.

Loving in Long Distance

Charles 91, was born and raised in Picayune, and graduated from PMHS in 1951, the same year Betty, 90 graduated. Charles was drafted into the Military in 1952. That same year he was stationed for training in Fort Lee Virginia. On his weekends he and his training friends met with Betty in Greensboro where the two went on several dates. Around this time the two bonded and grew an eternity-long bond. In 1953 Charles was sent to Korea to fight the war. For a year Charles and Betty exchanged phone calls and letters, and would always talk about marriage. Their love extended past letters and calls. Military men during war times, left an allotment to a loved one back in the States. Charles chose Betty to send back to her, $25.00 per month. That was probably about 90% of his pay while in Korea. He was in Korea for 11 months, so the total he sent Betty was about $300.00, at that time, a small fortune. Betty, however, was very honest and when he came back, she sent his money back to him. He also identified Betty as a beneficiary for military insurance, along with ordering a bedroom suite. Which in those times indicated love and marriage.

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When Charles came out of service in 1954 Betty expected him to move to North Carolina. Charles said she even took a two-week vacation in anticipation of his arrival.

“She took a vacation for us to get married,” he said.

But Charles needed a car as he intended to go to Greensboro and marry her. So he worked for several weeks and purchased a Mercury vehicle and drove it to Greensboro. Before leaving Charles wrote Betty a letter explaining everything, why he didn’t show up, and his need for transportation. That letter never got to Betty.

As any woman would, Betty assumed Charles was never going to come. Upon Charles’s arrival to Greensboro, and after going on a few dates, he knew something was off. Charles had met with Betty’s sister at a local Greensboro boat house telephone, the phone where Charles and Betty normally talked while he was in Korea. Betty’s sister told Charles some unexpected news. Betty was dating another man named Odell Brown who she’s grown to like. Disheartened, Charles goes to see Betty and Odell. Odell and Charles had a private conversation. Charles stated that Odell gave him intimidating and threatening comments and asked him to go back to Mississippi. Odell tried to ward Charles away and gave Betty the impression that Charles wasn’t still trying to marry. Charles didn’t want to break up a happy home. A few weeks later he left and went back to Mississippi.

Betty learned about what Odell did, after hearing it from Charles 70 years later. Betty said, “That sounds just like Odell.”

On July 16 1955 after a year back in Picayune, Charles married Picayune native Dorthy. On May 12 1956 Betty married Odell. The two original lovebirds had zero contact with each other since.

Both even through separate marriages, they kept mementos of each other. During the Korean War, Charles had pictures of Betty at his office desk and above his bed. Betty also kept pictures that Charles sent from Korea.

Both had wonderful marriages. Charles was married for 67 years until his wife died of illness in 2021. Charles has 4 adult children now. Betty was married until 2016 when Odell passed away. She has two adult children. Around Christmas of 2016, Charles got a letter from a Greensboro NC address. There was only one person who could have sent that letter.

“I got a condolence card from her, we hadn’t even made contact for 70 years. I responded with a thank you card, and I just happen to put my telephone number on there. She called me about 3 or 4 days later, and we’ve been talking ever since, at least two times a day.” said Charles.

“She was the same person, she’s still got it, she talks good, and remembers things,” Charles said it was a very unique moment of disbelief for the both of them. This was also when Charles learned that Odell passed away and Betty having children.

In Charles’s words, he loves Betty and she has a special place in his heart. Charles added that when she called him on that Christmas holiday, she did two things. Helped him through Christmas and reunited the good time they’d had together.

“I was dreading that Christmas without my wife and we (Betty and Charles) reunited again. She has those strong feelings for me, and I have those strong feelings for her.”

Ted Musgrove meets Charles Manberg

It’s January 2022, Charles has been a year deep into two-a-day phone calls with Betty. Around this time Charles was setting up plans to travel 777 miles to Greensboro to see Betty. His only options at the time were assistance from his children. On a day at the Picayune Waffle House located on US 11 North, Ted Musgrove 71, and Charles met. Ted saw Charles at the table, he noticed he was using his cell phone very fluently, nothing you see any regular senior do. So Ted ask how old Charles was and he replied,

“91 and half years young.”

Ted also learned that Charles has worked with computers for his life, which explains why he’s good with his phone. Ted also learned about Betty and Charles’s desire to see his old girlfriend. Charles was going to go he just needed someone to go with him.

Ted’s response to hearing his story was very charming and inviting.

“If you can’t get someone soon to take you, I’m going to take you,” he told Charles.

Charles said that was a big relief. So he took Ted up on his word after knowing each other for just 2 weeks. Ted and Charles found their bond through Christ, and genealogy and both were past military workers.

“This was an elderly man whom I had only met 2 weeks ago. But there was something wonderful about him and we both had talked about our relationships with Christ. You know when you met a fellow brother in Christ, it has a bond and trusting feeling. So when he asked me if I was serious about going to NC, my reply was, ‘serious as a heart attack.'” said in Ted’s Facebook Post where he wrote a 9 part story to Charles’s story.

“We began striking up a good kinship for the trip,” said Ted.

Ted met Charles’s kids and got approval to take their dad to North Carolina on a 12-hour drive. They left on April 24 2023 arrived on April 26 and traveled back home on April 29.

During his second day of seeing Betty, Charles bought flowers to be placed on Odell’s grave. They went there and paid their respects.

“She told me she had not been out to Odell’s grave in some time and she couldn’t get anybody to take her out. And I say when I get out there I’m a take you.”

He did exactly that.

The future for Charles and Betty is in their hands, and they talk about it every day. They consider themselves special friends at the moment. Charles has plans to go back up in September to see her again.

Surely enough Ted’s 9-part story received a lot of attention and support. His comments range from “a great love story” to “a special journey”  to calling Ted the Pearl River County Love Connection.”

His response to that is, “god puts you in placed your thought you’d never be…but I really believe god puts you in places to witness and help other people.”