Ambassador of Good Will

Monday, September 23, 2002 Will Shortz

Clinton's letter to Will

Dear Will. Happy 50th Birthday. The 50s have their rewards along with their constant sometimes irritating reminders of the ticking clock. The Cherokees, who gave me a trace of their blood, believed a man didn't reach full maturity until 51. Something to look forward to. Meanwhile, keep the crosswords coming. Even when I can't finish them, they're the only part of the Times that guarantees good feeling! Sincerely, Bill Clinton

The party was great. It was a select crowd of 32 guests. Will Shortz's 50th birthday took place on August 26, 2002, (his actual birthday) at Alouette, a small restaurant on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Will's credits are too numerous to mention, so here are just a few:

Crossword puzzle editor for The New York Times, Puzzlemaster of National Public Radio (NPR), Founder of the World Puzzle Championship (WTC), Chairman of the World Puzzle Federation (WPF), Historian for the National Puzzlers' League (NPL), the only person in the world to have a degree in Enigmatology, and most of all, a friend to puzzlers all over the world. Will absolutely LOVED the scrapbook of puzzle wishes that I made for him. I had received about 30 messages from his friends all around the world and some people from the NPL.

My nonpuzzling friend, Leni Teaman, came to my house and really did all the work in creating a scrapbook for him. She is a scrapbook maven; she brought her own materials, papers, and tools and did a fantastic job. We interspersed the messages with photos of puzzle people and mementos from former WPCs and ACPTs, etc. I would have just printed out each message and stapled them together, but she made a work of art.

Immediately framed Clinton's letter

Will was so pleased! I did give Leni all the credit. Besides, everyone would know that I couldn't do that on my own! I also kept up my reputation as the chutzpah queen and tracked down President Bill Clinton's secretary in his new office in Harlem and asked her for a birthday message for Will.

Clinton responded with a handwritten note which was FedExed to Will. I would have had it in time for the party but the secretary wanted me to send a messenger to the Harlem office. So, not having any accounts with messenger services, the note was a day late, but Will was still ECSTATIC and immediately framed Clinton's letter and it now occupies a place of honor in his home.

Will Shortz, the cool man of puzzles, loved the paint by numbers puzzle created by Conceptis and was in emotional overdrive at the party. He said it was the best night of his life - surrounded by good friends on an important occasion. For Will, that's emotion!

Editorial comment

In honor of his 50th birthday Conceptis has created this Pic-a-Pix puzzle portrait for Will, which is posted here for your enjoyment. This account of Will's 50th birthday party was written by Helene Hovanec, who has been Will's puzzle friend for 29 years.

About the author

Helene Hovanec was the coordinator of the first and ninth WPC's and was the Judging Panel Chairwoman from 1993 to 1997.

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