It was a typical Friday evening for this Penn Medicine couple. After work, Kinnari Patel, a third-year urology resident, arrived home to her boyfriend Will Kennedy, a third-year ENT resident, cooking home-made pizza — the dish they shared together on their first date two years ago.
After dinner, the two Penn students started their weekly tradition of solving a crossword puzzle in an issue of The Daily Pennsylvanian, one of their favorite pastimes. But this specific crossword puzzle was different from others. On the very bottom line, attached to the hints 62-across and 63-across, was the question: “Will you marry me?”
Kennedy, who reached out to the DP weeks before his planned proposal, wanted to ask Patel to marry him in a unique way that paid homage to what he and Patel loved to do together. To do this, he first reached out to Fred Piscop, former crossword puzzle editor of the Washington Post, to design the customized puzzle with clues that held significance to their relationship, Kennedy said. Then in November, he asked the DP to help print a special issue of the paper that contained the proposal.
“I put a lot of thought into how I wanted to do it,” Kennedy said.
The newly engaged couple met in 2016, when they were both part of the same rotation group as surgical interns in Penn Medicine. After they started dating formally, the couple developed a habit of doing the DP’s puzzles regularly, Kennedy said. Given this shared tradition, he felt that proposing via the puzzle would allow him to make the proposal seem as “close to normal as possible."
On the evening of Nov. 9, as they were solving the crossword puzzle, Kennedy guided Patel through the questions until they arrived at the final line when Kennedy knelt with a ring. For Patel, this was a surprising and emotional moment, she said.
“I really loved that it was at home and reminiscent of our first date," Patel said. “Something that we share a lot is doing crossword puzzles and it was very special."