For many of us, a hundred bucks is no picayune amount of money. But knowing how to spell picayune made Gene Durbin’s day at the Illinois State Fair a profitable one. The 69-year-old from Frankfort won the Senior Spelling Bee on Senior Day at the fair. One of the organizers, Dee Leffler, who works for Fox Valley Older Adult Services, says the bee had not been held for a number of years, but it’s back now.
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“The Association of Illinois Senior Centers and the Illinois Department on Aging … decided to get the spelling bee off the ground again,” she said. “We have to teach our young people … spelling really does matter.” Irene Clayton of Princeton was the next-to-last contestant standing; she misspelled hirsute. Durbin spelled it right, then went on to correctly spell picayune to take the $100 prize. Clayton won $50. Durbin, a retired physics teacher and accountant, says he was a good speller in high school – and admitted to reading the dictionary.