Will Shortz, New York Times Crossword Editor, Says He Is Recovering From a Stroke


Will Shortz, crossword editor of The New York Times and the host of NPR’s “Sunday Puzzle,” is recovering from a stroke, he said on Sunday.

Mr. Shortz, who is 71 and has been with The Times for three decades, shared the health update in a recorded message that aired on Sunday at the end of the puzzle quiz segment during the NPR program “Weekend Edition Sunday.”

“Hey guys, this is Will Shortz. Sorry I’ve been out the last few weeks. I had a stroke on February 4, and have been in rehabilitation since then, but I am making progress,” he said in the message. “I’m looking forward to being back with new puzzles soon.”

Ayesha Rascoe, the host of “Weekend Edition Sunday,” wished Mr. Shortz a speedy recovery.

“We here at ‘Weekend Edition,’ we love Will and I know that everybody at home does too and we are rooting for him and we are so hopeful and know that he will feel better soon,” she said during the segment.

Mr. Shortz, who last year celebrated his 30th anniversary as crossword editor at The Times, also founded the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, spent 15 years as the editor of Games magazine, and has appeared weekly as the puzzle master on “Weekend Edition Sunday.”

“When I was a kid, I imagined a life where I’d be sitting in an attic somewhere, making my little puzzles for $15 each, somehow surviving,” he said in a 2017 interview with The Times. “I actually wrote a paper in eighth grade about what I wanted to do with my life, and it was to be a professional puzzle maker.”

Despite skepticism from his middle school teacher about that dream, Mr. Shortz went on to self-design a degree at Indiana University in enigmatology — the scientific study of puzzles as it is related to semiotics, culture and cognition. He also studied law.

In 1993, Mr. Shortz became the Times’s fourth puzzle editor, and, in an interview last year, he recalled telling his hiring editor at the time that he hoped to “maintain the quality and intellectual rigor of the Crossword” while bringing in young contributors, fresh themes and modern vocabulary.

The content of the crosswords, he said, should have lasting cultural impact, which he defined as “at least five to 10 years.”

Mr. Shortz could not be immediately reached on Sunday for further comment about his recovery, and when he might return to work.

Jordan Cohen, a spokesman for The New York Times, said in an email that the newspaper had been in “regular contact” with Mr. Shortz and wished him “the best on his path to what is expected to be a full recovery.” Mr. Cohen added, “We look forward to having him back at work when he is ready.”

A spokeswoman from NPR shared Mr. Shortz’s aired statement by email on Sunday, but did not immediately respond to questions about when he might return to work.



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