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A. J. Santora 1919-2005

Dean of American Crossword Puzzle Constructors

Will Shortz posted this in the New York Times Forum.

A.J. passed away (on December 16th, 2005) at the age of 86, of congestive heart failure. A.J. was one of the longest-running crossword constructors in America -- and it's safe to say one of the best. He sold his first Sunday crossword to The Times in 1956. His most recent Sunday puzzle appeared on May 22 of this year. He had 85 Sunday crosswords published altogether, the third largest number by one person in the newspaper's history. He was the author of hundreds of dailies as well.

Shortz goes on to say what he liked most about A.J.'s constructions- wide-open grids and general avoidance of obscurity and crosswordese. "His puzzles always had a timeless elegance." He fondly remembers A.J.'s work in the 1980s when Shortz was an editor at Games magazine and again in the 1990s/2000s at The NYTimes. Other puzzle editors such as Margaret Farrar and Eugene Maleska were also fans of A.J.'s. Incidentally, his initials stood for Augustine Joseph which Margaret Farrar shortened to A.J. and which he kept ever since.

Condolences to Mr. Santora's family.

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