Frank Neuhauser

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Frank Louis Neuhauser
Born (1913-09-29)September 29, 1913
Louisville, Kentucky
Died March 11, 2011(2011-03-11) (aged 97)
Silver Spring, Maryland
Nationality German American
Occupation Patent Attorney
Known for Winning the 1st Spelling Bee in 1925

Frank Louis Neuhauser (September 29, 1913 – March 11, 2011) was an American patent lawyer and spelling bee champion, who won the first National Spelling Bee in 1925 by successfully spelling the word "gladiolus."[1][2] Today, the bee is known as the Scripps National Spelling Bee.[1] He was 11 at the day of the spelling bee.

Early life[edit]

Neuhauser was born in Louisville, Kentucky, on September 29, 1913, to German American parents.[1] His father, a stonemason, worked on spelling with his son on weekends if the weather was bad.[1]

National Spelling Bee[edit]

Neuhauser defeated nine finalists on stage, who had been whittled down from approximately two million schoolchildren,[2] to win the first ever National Spelling Bee, held in Washington D.C. in June 1925.[1] He had prepared for the bee by copying the dictionary into a blank notebook.[2] Neuhauser, who was eleven years old at the time of the contest, met U.S. President Calvin Coolidge and was awarded five hundred dollars in gold pieces for his victory.[2] His hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, gave Neuhauser a parade in his honor and presented him with bouquets of gladiolus.[1][2] His classmates and school also gave him a bicycle.[1] During his later life, Neuhauser often appeared as a guest of honor at more recent spelling bees.[1] He also appeared in the 2002 documentary film Spellbound.[2]


Neuhauser went on to obtain a bachelor's degree in engineering from the University of Louisville in 1934.[2] He began working as a small appliance engineer for General Electric (GE), which offered to send him to law school in order to gain additional patent lawyers.[2] Neuhauser received his law degree from George Washington University in 1940.[2] Neuhauser enlisted in the United States Navy during World War II.[2]

Later life and death[edit]

Following the end of World War II, Neuhauser returned to General Electric as a patent attorney. He worked for GE in Connecticut and New York City, before moving permanently to Maryland in the mid-1950s.[2] He remained on the staff of General Electric, and, among other things, was Manager of GE's Washington Patent Operation, where he formally trained many patent attorneys, in a training program that had 16 prospective patent attorneys at a time. In 1978 he left GE to join Bernard Rothwell & Brown, a law firm based in Washington D.C.[1][2]

Neuhauser formerly chaired the patent law divisions of both the District of Columbia Bar Association and the American Bar Association.[2] He was the former president of the American Intellectual Property Law Association and the former chairman of the National Council of Patent Law Associations.[2]

Neuhauser died from myelodysplastic syndrome at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland, on March 11, 2011, at the age of 97.[2] He was survived by his wife of 66 years, Mary Virginia Clark Neuhauser; four children – Linda, Frank, Charles and Alan; and five grandchildren.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Fox, Margalit (March 22, 2011). "Frank Neuhauser, a Speller's Speller, Dies at 97". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-04-03. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Brown, Emma (March 21, 2011). "Frank Neuhauser, winner of first national spelling bee, dies at 97". Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-04-03.