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Parents of Spelling Elite Try Their Hand

May 31, 1994

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The parents of the nation’s top spellers engaged in a marathon spelling bee of their own that stretched into the early hours of Tuesday morning before a threesome snatched the crown by spelling xyloglyphy.

″Is it from the Greek, ‘glyphen,’ to carve,″ Dr. Steve Urban, an internist from Amarillo, Texas, asked the judges in the 13th and climactic round.

Assured that it was, the doctor quickly rattled off the correct spelling of the word for an artistic wood carving. His partners were Runi Niyogi of Willingboro, N.J., and Dorothy Leong of Littleton, Colo.

They were among 192 parents of the 238 entrants in this year’s National Spelling Bee who competed in the first-ever Parents of Champions contest.

It was supposed to take two or three hours, but it ran for six. Most of the children had long since been sent upstairs to bed in their hotel rooms when it finished at 1 a.m.

The winners each carried off $500 and dictionaries and other prizes worth an additional $250.

The 67th national student spelling bee will take place in the same hotel ballroom this Wednesday and Thursday. The champion will receive $5,000.

The parents spelled a total of 241 words during the 13 rounds. Unlike the student competition, which is strictly for individuals, the parents competed as trios, conferring with one another before giving their answers.

The winners also spelled leitrochous - meaning smooth, straight hair - before the runners-up flubbed an arcane word for economic satisfaction, ophelimity.

The runners up were D.K. Sharma of Alexandria, La., Ruth Ann Crites of Romney, W.Va., and Linda Loeffler of Merced, Calif.

They received $250 worth of dictionaries and other prizes.

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