Meet the Rhode Islander who created a New York Times crossword puzzle this week

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

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Sue Fracker (right) was joined by Laura Burkett (left) to celebrate the release of her crossword. PHOTO: Fracker

The New York Times crossword section in 2019 boasted more than half a million subscribers — and those aren’t even the most recent numbers.

This week, Pawtucket resident Sue Fracker was tapped by the publication to provide her own puzzle to likely over a million readers.

Fracker was the 55th puzzle “builder” to debut in 2022, according to the Times.


“This crossword puzzle has all the elements of a great one: clever use of circles, fun revealing, neat filling, and some great clues,” said the Times while running the crossword puzzle manufactured by Fracker. “It also has all the elements of a crossword puzzle, period.”

GoLocal spoke with Fracker about the honor — and the celebrations.

“I started building my own crosswords a few years ago during COVID,” said Fracker, who said she’s been doing crosswords for more than 30 years. “I thought it was kind of crazy to shoot for The New York Times…but I did it.”

Fracker said she had submitted “maybe 11 or 12” crosswords to publication in the past, and her perseverance finally paid off this summer.

“My first ‘rejection’ was one of the best I’ve ever had,” Fracker said with a laugh, adding that feedback from Times staff helped her improve her crossword-building game.

It was in June, however, that Fracker learned she had finally made the “cut” — and would be released this week.

Jubilation – and French toast

A top marketing executive in the professional golf world, Fracker’s social media exploded on Tuesday, when she heard friends everywhere praising her for making The Times.

And Fracker celebrated Rhode Island style.

“We went to the Modern Diner to celebrate breakfast,” said Fracker, who said she had 15 friends to join her – and she had French toast.

“Someone joked that I should have incorporated ‘calamari’ into the puzzle,” Fracker said.

When Fracker spoke with GoLocal on Tuesday afternoon, she said there were plans to continue the celebrations at The Guild.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Fracker plans to decamp to his residence with his partner at Bayley Street Lofts – and start working on his next crossword puzzle.

“My goal is to get a Sunday crossword published in The New York Times,” Fracker said.

His crossword puzzles appeared in the print edition of The Times; it is available online for Times subscribers.

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