Cover photo for Nancy J. Schuster's Obituary

Nancy J. Schuster

d. April 26, 2024

Goshen, N.Y.

Nancy Schuster, born July 13, 1933, lately of Goshen, New York, passed away peacefully on April 26, 2024, surrounded by her family.

Nancy was raised in the Bronx on the Grand Concourse and attended the Bronx High School of Science. She attended Adelphi University, majoring in chemistry. After graduation, she worked in the laboratory of the NYU School of Medicine. In 1955, she married Irwin, her first crush and forever love. Besides raising her children and supporting her husband in his music publishing career, Nancy played tennis, poker, and mahjong every chance she had with her neighbors in Queens, New York. Nancy learned to love crossword puzzles as a young girl doing them on her father’s lap.  As the children grew older, she began to construct puzzles for various publications, including Harper’s Bazaar, getting paid $5 and $7 each. In 1978, she participated in the first American Crossword Puzzle Tournament at Stamford, CT, and won the championship. She was featured on television and in newspapers around the country and went on to a dazzling career as a crossword puzzle constructor, editor, competitor, judge, and mentor. Several of her puzzles appeared in the daily and Sunday New York Times. She worked for Dell Magazines and Official Publications as Editor-in-Chief. She was also the editor of the Random House Crossword Puzzle Dictionary. She was a tester of puzzles for the New York Times for many years, debating clues and answers with her lifelong friend Will Shortz up until her 90th birthday. Puzzle competitions took her around the world to Paris, Vienna, Hungary, Poland, Turkey, Brazil, Bulgaria and more. Nancy took great joy in nurturing younger generations of puzzlers, often hosting holiday puzzle gatherings at her home in Queens. Nancy had very strong and specific opinions about the use of language and words, but in regard to her friends, Nancy was open to everyone. Her only requirement was that someone be interesting and smart (that is, a puzzle person). After the loss of her husband, Nancy remained staunchly independent and busy. While playing a trivia game at the Rockland J, she was thrilled to reconnect with her childhood friend Ruth after nearly 50 years. Nancy moved to Goshen in 2021 to be closer to Gary and his family.  

Nancy was predeceased by parents Sophie and Elkan Jay Cahn, brother Jeffrey Cahn, sister Grace Constance Judith Cahn Gross, and husband Irwin. She is survived by her son Gary (Kathryn), daughter Jacqueline Novick (Steve), and grandchildren Sophia Rose, Madeline Anne, Natalie Claire, and Avery Irwin.


The family has entrusted Nancy's care to Brendan & Thomas Flynn and the Flynn Funeral & Cremation Memorial Center staff.


To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Nancy J. Schuster, please visit our flower store.

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