Entertaining real-life stories with valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life
Entertaining and compelling real-life stories with valuable lessons on how to succeed in business and in life. The author is successful business, real estate, and media entrepreneur Dick Kazan.
Published on April 7th, 2015

Bernice Gordon: The 101 year old crossword puzzle superstar.

Bernice Gordon
Bernice Gordon  

You may not recognize her name but if you do crossword puzzles in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times or in many other publications around the world, you likely have done some of Bernice's crossword puzzles.

Bernice, who recently passed away at the age of 101 in her Philadelphia home, created puzzles until two weeks before her passing.

An early riser, Bernice typically created her puzzles between 3 am and 6 am, using the tools of her trade: a brilliant mind, dictionaries, almanacs and other reference materials.

And when she was nearly 90, Bernice switched from manual production, to creating her puzzles on a computer, seeing no reason why age should stop her from using a computer.

Yet her creation of crossword puzzles started so simply.

A busy housewife and mother, Bernice loved doing crossword puzzles, and she decided she too could create those puzzles.

In 1952, 38 year old Bernice mustered her courage and with high hopes, submitted a crossword puzzle to the prestigious New York Times.

The Times rejected it.

It was disappointing but Bernice refused to give-up. She kept submitting puzzles, learning from every rejection.

Then one day The New York Times published one of her puzzles and Bernice was on her way.

Ever creative, at the age of 99, Bernice teamed largely by email with David Steinberg, a 16 year old Californian more than 80 years her junior, to produce a highly contemporary puzzle.

"Phenomenal" is what Will Shortz, The New York Times crossword editor called it, and published it.

Steinberg, still just 18 years of age, is now the crossword puzzle editor for The Orange County Register.

When asked what he learned from Bernice he replied, "More than anything I was inspired to keep constructing. No matter how old you get or what happens in life, keep doing what you love."

"Even when she was almost terminally ill," her son Jim Lanard said, "She was still up at her computer doing puzzles. She'd get excited about a new theme - colors, movies, you name it."

Crossword puzzles "make my life," Bernice told the Associated Press after celebrating her 100th birthday last year. "I couldn't live without them."

And Bernice never did live without them, as each day she did what she loved.

Success Tip of the Week: Do what you love, and like Bernice you will find great joy and purpose in your life.

Editor's Note: To learn more click here, from which Bernice's story quotes were taken. Also here, here and here.

In the next KazanToday: A stage director and mentor to disabled actors and writers.

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