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November 30, 2013

Happy 100th to the crossword puzzle

(Continued)

And that became the puzzle with no answer: Where was he buried? Somewhere in Tampa Bay? If so, is there a gravestone? Or was he transported to a family plot in Liverpool? Fifteen years later I still had no answer.

The break came in July this year. While surfing the Web, my wife, Marie, found the hometown obit of Wynne's oldest daughter, Janet. It mentioned that there was another daughter living in Clearwater. Wynne had married a third time to a much younger woman and had fathered a child at 62. That daughter's name was Catherine Wynne — they called her Kay — and she was 11 when her father died.

Her married name was Kay Wynne Cutler. She had turned 80 in April and was living in Clearwater. It took Marie only minutes to find her number and call. A bright-sounding woman answered. The conversation lasted 15 minutes. We tried not to show that we were giddy as kids in an ice cream parlor. We agreed to meet.

Kay walks with a cane but is sharp. She laughs easily. She brought articles about her father. As far as she knows she is the only one in the family who is a crossword fan.

She had the answer to my "grave" question. There was no burial site because there was no burial. Her father had been cremated. Kay says she was too young to know, but she thinks his ashes were scattered in the Gulf of Mexico. At the time, she was a student at Anona Elementary, a happy accident for the daughter of a puzzle creator — the name of the school is a palindrome.

Kay said her father used to say that he never made a penny off the crossword puzzle. In this, the 100th anniversary of his invention, I hope he can settle for recognition.

Reagle is a professional puzzle author.

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