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A modest proposal

Looking for love in the right place — one couple finds it through Oklahoma Gazette’s crossword puzzle page.

Tim Farley November 27th, 2013

Lindsey Miller has worked every crossword puzzle published by Oklahoma Gazette for several years, but little did she know the Nov. 20 edition would include a special message designed just for her.

With boyfriend Jonathan Mitchell in another room on a business call, Miller began working the puzzle, and in about 30 minutes, she discovered enough clues that left her shocked and crying.

Mitchell, in his own unique way, had asked Miller to marry him through the crossword puzzle.

“I came up with the idea because she gets nuts with the crossword,” he said the day after the marriage proposal. “She and her mom get the Gazette every Wednesday and work the crossword. I figured it would be a novel way to propose, and I didn’t want to do something traditional like get down on one knee and pop the question.”

Before her joyous discovery, Miller was working the puzzle at her own pace with baby Henry on her lap, eating dinner.

“I would get up and get something and come back and start working it again,” she said. “When I saw what it was, I went and found him and asked if this was for real.”

Mitchell reassured her it was real. “I put the phone down, got on my knee and gave her the ring,” he said. “I had been carrying it around with me for a few days, so I was glad to put it on her finger.”

Miller, all smiles during the interview, was “shocked and surprised” at the way she received the marriage proposal.

“It was sweet and romantic,” she said in a soft voice. “It was perfect. I get to spend the rest of my life with my best friend.”

Mitchell and Miller joke they haven’t had a traditional relationship.

“It was a pretty fast courtship.

We met in the spring of 2012, she got pregnant and had Henry, we bought a house and now we’re engaged,” Mitchell said.

“But I couldn’t imagine something better,” Miller replied.

Making it happen
Mitchell thought about proposing on the couple’s planned trip to Paris in December, but that idea was nixed. He also thought about proposing during the couple’s recent trip to New York City, but that didn’t seem right either.

“Lindsey is not a person who likes big, lavish productions, so I had to come up with something else. That’s when I called the Gazette. Actually, proposing this way was more common than I originally thought.”

Popping the marriage question with a crossword puzzle is considered one of the best and most unique ways to begin a life of wedded bliss.

Dozens of stories in newspapers throughout the country detailed numerous couples that shared the experience, including The Daily Show host Jon Stewart. In 2000, the comedy icon also proposed to his wife through a crossword puzzle.

Sasha Brown-Worsham, author of CafeMom, labeled the crossword marriage proposal “the sweetest thing ever,” in a 2011 column.

Mitchell credited Gazette Publisher Bill Bleakley and Linda Meoli, vice president of corporate affairs, for helping facilitate the special crossword offering.

At first, the three tried contacting the crossword editor at The New York Times to arrange a personalized puzzle for this special event.

“We hit a stone wall trying to get through to them,” Bleakley said, “but love knows no limitations. We were determined to find a crossword puzzle for Jonathan.”

Refusing to give up, Bleakley contacted Patrick Jordan, a crossword expert who has constructed puzzles for The New York Times, The Washington Post and CrosSynergy Syndicate. He’s also the advertising manager for The Ponca City News and the author of two books released by Puzzlewright Press.

In this instance, Jordan prepared the puzzle as a bonus crossword specifically for the Nov. 20 edition.

Jordan has prepared two other puzzles to serve as marriage proposals. In one case, the proposal was successful, he said.

“I always try to spell out the message clearly enough so they won’t miss it,” he said.

The Nov. 20 bonus puzzle incorporated gray boxes for the marriage proposal answers.

When told the proposal was successful, Jordan said, “It makes me feel great. I’m glad I could help get something started that will last a lifetime.”

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