News, Jazz, NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Arts / Culture

At A Loss For Words: The Puzzle Genius Of Merl Reagle

Merl_Reagle.jpg
Wikimedia Commons
Merl Reagle

Millions of puzzle fans opening their Sunday crossword this week didn't know the game they crave lost one of its masters: the inimitable Merl Reagle. The Tampa resident died over the weekend from complications due to acute pancreatitis, his wife told the Tampa Bay Times.

New York Times Puzzle Editor Will Shortz said crosswords are known for puns, but Reagle's puzzles "were not just clever, they would make you laugh."

Reagle's work was so famous, he along with Shortz was featured on an episode of "The Simpsons."

Shortz said he and Reagle had a love of words in common, and they grew up "reading the dictionary." Reagle told him he began interlocking words at a very young age and working with building blocks, which may have lead him to his love of crossword puzzles. 

Reagle was also featured in the 2006 documentary about Shortz called "Wordplay."

WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online.