by Saxifrage [Mar, 2004 Enigma]
I'm sorry to report that Nightowl passed away on January 31 after a long battle with cancer. She was 73 years old.
She served as editor of The Enigma from November 1971 until October 1977, during which time she helped revitalize the NPL when it had been in danger of dying out. According to the NPL History, she introduced cryptic crosswords and kudos counts to the Enigma during her tenure, as well as debuting the double-cross at the 1983 convention. After her service as editor,she and her husband Hap served jointly as solutions editors.
For those of us who joined more recently, she was known mostly as a puzzle composer and solver (she, originally with Hap and then solo after his death, had a string of 177 consecutive completes!), and as the originator of a handy reference sheet summarizing flat and form types. She remained an active solver until a few months before her death, when her eyesight began to trouble her, and she sent me her last flat in a letter dated just six days before she died.
Dada writes, “Almost immediately after my joining the NPL, she invited me and a few other members to a party at her house to acquaint us with the NPL's delightful qualities.” Newrow remembers: “Hap and Nightowl visited my wife and me in Brookline soon after I joined NPL. They toted a scrapbook with NPL reunion pix, and lots of good commentary.” Wabbit writes, “I met Nightowl at the Toronto NPL Con back in 1991 and we shared a dining table most of the time. I don't remember getting too many words in edgewise. … I know the NPL meant very much to her, and she was certainly a longtime gifted contributor of material as well as a devoted Enigma editor.” R/EDS says, “I never had the pleasure of meeting Nightowl in person and yet we were good friends. I was always amazed that I'd get the 'Nig online the first of the month; she'd get it about the 6th and call me on the 8th with three holes and I'd still have several with all sorts of referencing advantages via the computer.” G Natural adds, with respect to her comments on his flats, “I appreciated not only her supportive comments, but the fact that she took the time to put pen (or typewriter) to paper and encourage a fellow puzzler.”
At the same time, it must be said that she caused a lot of controversy over the years (much of which predates my joining the League). I know that many Krewe had conflicts with her, and those conflicts caused a lot of pain. This saddens me, personally, because the NPL generally is a very friendly group, and I'm sorry that these conflicts damaged that conviviality. These conflicts are part of her legacy, but so are her many contributions to the NPL as one of its most notable editors, composers, and solvers. She will not be forgotten.
It was through Stilicho that I first heard of the NPL–in his Kickshaws column in Word Ways, he organized some correspondence word games, and Merlin and I were avid players. He told Merlin that I'd be a good candidate for the NPL [. . .].
Source: npl-folk email from Mercury, quoting Nightowl from the July 1978 Enigma.
First Issue: Dec 1970