Winner Of First National Spelling Bee Dies At 97

Frank Neuhauser,  right, winner of the first Spelling Bee in 1925, signs an autograph for  Brent M. Henderson, left, before the start of the finals of the 2008  Scripps National Spelling Bee. i

Frank Neuhauser, right, winner of the first Spelling Bee in 1925, signs an autograph for Brent M. Henderson, left, before the start of the finals of the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Frank Neuhauser,  right, winner of the first Spelling Bee in 1925, signs an autograph for  Brent M. Henderson, left, before the start of the finals of the 2008  Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Frank Neuhauser, right, winner of the first Spelling Bee in 1925, signs an autograph for Brent M. Henderson, left, before the start of the finals of the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

"Gladiolus" was the word that earned him the distinction. In 1925, at 11-years-old Frank Neuhauser spelled the name of the flower correctly and became the first winner of the National Spelling Bee.

In an obituary, The Washington Post reports that he died at age 97 earlier this month.

The American Bar Association Journal reports that Neuhauser went on to become a patent lawyer who worked first for General Electric, then for Bernard, Rothwell & Brown before retiring in 1988.

But it was that spelling title that kept his name in the lights. Neuhauser was featured in the 2002 documentary Spellbound. And the Post reports that even in his 90s he spent hours in the yard: "He grew a range of flowers, trees and vegetables — but was particularly fond of raising gladioli."

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