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Frank Neuhauser, first National Spelling Bee winner, dies at 97

By the CNN Wire staff
  • Frank Neuhauser, winner of first National Spelling Bee, is dead at 97
  • Neuhauser won the 1925 Bee by correctly spelling "gladiolus"
  • Neuhauser was 11 when he won the Bee

(CNN) -- Frank Neuhauser, who won the first National Spelling Bee in the United States by correctly spelling "gladiolus," has died, a Maryland funeral home confirmed Tuesday.

Neuhauser, 97, died March 11 at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland, according to Francis J. Collins Funeral Home. He was buried at the Gates of Heaven Cemetery on March 16.

Neuhauser, a Louisville, Kentucky native, was one of nine contestants who, in 1925, took part in the first nationwide spelling bee in Washington, D.C., according to the Scripps National Spelling Bee website. Neuhauser also appeared in "Spellbound," the 2002 documentary about the annual competition, according to the online movie database,

The 11-year-old national spelling champion grew up to be a patent lawyer.

The Louisville Courier-Journal sponsored the first spelling bee contest, according to history of the competition posted on the Scripps website. The newspaper first conducted a statewide search for contestants but later offered other newspapers the opportunity to pick their own champions to compete in the nationwide bee.

Scripps took over the competition in 1941.