- The Washington Times - Monday, June 20, 2005

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — David Riddle was anything but paralyzed as he correctly spelled 14 words — culminating with “ptosis,” or limpness of a limb or eyelid caused by paralysis — to win the National Senior Spelling Bee.

Saturday’s 2-hour oral round allowed up to two misspelled words before competitors had to bow out, but Mr. Riddle didn’t misspell a single word in outspelling the other competitors, all older than 50.

“They got increasingly difficult. But they were words that I was familiar with, so I felt lucky about that,” said Mr. Riddle, 52, of Pacific Grove, Calif., who is an attorney for military members at the Defense Language Institute.

In addition to “ptosis,” he aced “myrmidons,” people who carry out orders unquestioningly; “oligophagous,” eating only a few specific kinds of foods; and “mulligatawny,” a soup usually made of chicken stock and seasoned with curry.

Mr. Riddle won $100 for first prize, but he isn’t allowed to compete again now that he has won.

“This is fun stuff. It’s too bad I can’t be back,” he said.

The senior spelling bee began 10 years ago and drew 21 competitors this year from eight states, banking on the growing popularity of youth spelling bees with the hit documentary “Spellbound” and the Broadway play “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.”

The runner-up at last year’s bee finished second again.

Bill Long, a law professor at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., missed “connoisseur;” “terpsichorean,” anything having to do with dancing; and finally “cappelletti,” stuffed pasta in the shape of tiny hats.

He tied for second with LaRae Lawson, 61, a proofreader and former medical transcriptionist from Stockton, Calif., forcing a runoff round.

Mr. Long prepared for the bee by studying all the eligible words in the 1,459-page Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition. After losing the Oregon state bee to Mr. Riddle, he knew Mr. Riddle was the man to beat.

“David is a wonderful speller, so it was a good competition,” Mr. Long said.

Miss Lawson had never competed in a spelling bee before.

“I’m glad that David won’t be back, because I will be back,” she said.


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