Richard Rogan – RIP

I’m sorry to have to bring you the sad news that Richard Rogan, The Times crossword editor, died at the weekend following a heart attack a week earlier. This is the announcement that was made by Mick Hodgkin, the Puzzles Editor in  the Crossword Club Forum.

I don’t need to tell you how enormously liked and respected Richard was in the world of cryptic crosswords, through his brilliant clue-writing as well as his ten years editing Times crosswords. He was also a great friend to those who knew him personally. I am sure everyone here will want to convey their heartfelt condolences to Richard’s widow Malika and son Liam. He will be sorely missed.

Update: Thank-you for all the comments. I have sent a sympathy card to Malika and Liam on behalf of the community here. It’s a shame we could not all sign it.

Further Update 6th June : Richard’s obituary in The Times today can be found here.

53 comments on “Richard Rogan – RIP”

  1. That is truly dreadful news and a great shock. An excellent editor, a fantastic compiler and a lovely man. He will be greatly missed. Heartfelt sympathy to his family.

  2. I’m extremely shocked and saddened by this news. The crossword world is quite big, and Richard was a big figure in it – both as a top-flight compiler and as editor of The Times crossword. I’m desperately sorry for Malika and Liam who’ve lost someone very special. My condolences.

  3. I heard this really sad news at the weekend and still can’t quite come to terms with it. He was, as others have said, a lovely man, a great editor and a fantastic setter .

    I was honoured to have test solved his crosswords for over ten years because, as he said, “someone’s got to edit the editor”. My email inbox won’t be the same without a monthly message with ‘something to keep me out of trouble’ – usually four cryptics and a jumbo.

    RIP Richard – Crosswordland won’t be the same without you – and condolences to Malika and Liam

  4. Although I’m a relative newcomer here, I’ve already regularly seen how much he contributed to this community. What a terrible shock and loss.
    Steve B

  5. It’s such terrible news. Like a lot of writers I’ve spoken to over the last few days, I’m not processing this very well, and I feel really sad about it. There’s a pretty good argument for saying that he was THE man in the industry, with his sparkling clues, and equally brilliant observations and amendments to the work of others. He was also responsible along with Richard Browne for getting me onto the Times panel, and I’ve always felt very privileged because of that. With that giant, benevolent presence now gone, it feels very strange. I will miss him very much.

  6. Met him on the first Times Literary Festival at sea. A good number of cryptic tyros came to his daily sessions and it was notable that they all stayed through the week. His personal style and patient explanation of clues I’m sure converted at least a few to attempting the Times Cryptic afterwards.

    Who knows there might be one or two on this forum?

    I’m sure he will be much missed.

  7. Terrible news. I was lucky enough to meet him a couple of times and he will be
    greatly missed in Crosswordland. Condolences to his family.

  8. I remember how encouraging he was to many of us as the arbiter of the old Times Crossword Club clue-writing competition, and especially his helpful advice when clues weren’t really up to scratch. He would occasionally mention that his own early attempts at clue construction often fell short of the mark through over-ambition, as a way of letting people down gently, and modestly. Hard to believe when you see the elegant conciseness in even the most complex of his.
    My condolences to his family and friends and professional colleagues here.

  9. This is shocking news. I had an email from him two weeks ago saying he was planning to join us at The George on 15 June.
    He will be greatly missed. My condolences to his family.

  10. Very sad to hear this. I never met him, but I quickly formed the impression that he was a very safe pair of hands at The Times and highly respected by all.

  11. A fine compiler, an excellent editor – but most importantly an absolute gentleman who has been torn away from us at a desperately young age.

  12. This is very sad news indeed. I know he composed many of the crosswords I have been solvimg and I, too, remember him as the editor of the monthly Crossword Club cluewriting competition to which I regularly submitted. Not only the crossword world will miss him very much. My sincere condolences to his family.

    1. When I left The Times a few years ago, my colleagues got Richard to compile a personal cryptic crossword for me, based around a few of my interests/obsessions. It is characteristically witty and brilliantly clued, and is one of my most treasured possessions

  13. I knew Richard for well over 30 years, as a close friend and running colleague.

    A kind, brilliant, modest, funny and lovely man.

    How many from the crossword community might even know Richard had run a marathon in under 2 hours 40 ?

    He was really good at that too, but probably wouldn’t think to mention it.

    When my wife was 8 months pregnant with our eldest I’d entered a local marathon – Rich was the only person I knew with a mobile phone back then so he cycled round alongside me just in case things started early, plan was for me to take his bike, ride to the finish then borrow his car to dash home. Thankfully wasn’t needed as we never did plan how he’d get back !

    Endless tales of his disorganised, chaotic nature, never spent a night out with him when he didn’t lose his keys, wallet or often both !

    Simply a one-off in the best possible way, it’s devastating news and all our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Malika and son Liam who’s in the middle of his GCSEs.

    farewell mate

    Paul, Amanda and family

  14. Sad news, Richard will be missed greatly. There have already been comments posted about his encouraging tone when he gave comments on so many (and in my case many awful) clues in the clue-writing contest. Fans of the quick cryptic would know him as Felix. He was a supporter and follower of this site, and would contact me if he noticed something that needed to be changed, and sometimes commented if there was something he could contribute. Best wishes to his family and everyone in crosswordland.

    1. I knew nothing about the man, but Felix has been my favourite Quick setter since shortly after that format was launched, so for that reason alone I will certainly miss him.

  15. This is such tragic news. I only met Richard once, but that was enough to recognise what a lovely bloke he was. My deepest condolences to his family and friends.

  16. I too knew Richard from running 20+ years back. I had so, so much fun with him. He introduced me to the local running club, and led our team to big fun carnival-like running events. He wore outlandish outfits and was at the centre of the social scene.

    What made him so entertaining, and so fun to be with, and this will be the same for the crossword folk, was the constant stream of witticisms, imaginative puns, and word play. Richard would always manage to bring out humour from a situation. My memory of events and incidents are all enhanced by the clever comments, (or even pages of witty verse) that Richard made.

    However, Richard could be serious when he needed to be. When leading our team at a big running event (Welsh Castles Relay) a runner had died from a heart attack. At the prize giving, Richard leapt from the crowd, and alarmingly, seized the organisers’s microphone. He then surprised the crowd further by an impromptu delivery of the most heartfelt, sympathetic, supportive, well-judged speech imaginable, capturing the feelings of all. It is terribly sad that should suffer the same fate.

    It comes at such a young age and the local running and quiz community are also in shock at the news. Our thoughts are with Malika and Liam.

    1. Thank you for this! It’s a sad time but it’s good to know more about this wonderful person.

  17. What a shock! I met Richard on a few occasions over the years. I liked him very much. He was a brilliant setter. A couple of years ago I solved what I thought was a particularly outstanding Saturday puzzle and emailed Richard, asking him if he would tell me who had set it. It was, of course, him (as I had suspected).
    A very sad and far too early loss. My condolences to Richard’s family.

  18. I am saddened to read this. Like others have commented, he was a very kind man, generous with his advice, knowledge and encouragement to the would-be crossword setter.

    My condolences to his family.

  19. I’m sitting here reading this news with my mouth agape. I just can’t believe it. What a loss. Condolences to his family and friends.

    1. Simply the best editor of my very long experience. His gently expressed suggestions nearly always improved my originals and his focus was constantly on a better experience for our solvers rather than on himself. He’s a very hard act to follow. Thanks for all your help , Richard, especially for one generous recommendation that I’ve never forgotten

  20. I’ve belatedly realised I’ve neglected to add my own tribute. I met Richard a few times over a beer or two in The George and greatly enjoyed his company. Modest and unassuming, he had a brilliant crossword brain. I was so looking forward to meeting him again at our TimesforTheTimes get together on 15th Jun. So sad.
    As his point of contact for TimesforTheTimes we exchanged messages a few times. And here is something that exemplifies his brilliance. In March last year after solving and commenting on his Quick Cryptic under one of his many pseudonyms Des, where I said I had found the Nina in it, I got an email… well read the whole story here. Absolutely brilliant. And, after the hive mind had finally cracked it, I loved his throwaway comment “Well done! I didn’t necessarily expect anyone to spot it. I was watching the entire two series with my son during August 2021 and when it came to thinking of a Nina it was an obvious choice. And then, well you have to include an ENCODED MESSAGE. Wouldn’t be right otherwise 🙂“

  21. I knew Richard from quizzing more than crosswording. He had a sparkling, mischievous wit and was a terrific sport whatever the success or failure of his team. He ran a quiz last year that I attended which was filled with homophonic acrobatics that foxed most of us but clearly delighted him. It was great fun.

    He was at a quiz that I ran the evening before the heart attack, full of his usual cheery humour. I can’t believe that he’s gone.

  22. What very sad news. After reading the above comments… well, what a wonderful person. My heartfelt thoughts to his family and friends.

  23. Never met Richard, but I have enjoyed his passion and brilliance for years; after reading all this I feel very sad. Thanks to all for posting their memories. My deepest condolences to his wife and son, and to all his friends here.

  24. We all owe so much to our crossword compilers and editors and we seem to have lost too many recently. Especially sad when one dies so young. Sincere condolences to all his loved ones.

  25. A brilliant setter and editor to whom I am indebted. And a good man. Howzat has said it all. So sad.

  26. I first met Richard in the late ‘90s. We used to quiz together and I was always amazed not only by his knowledge but also his ability to analyse in real time. Aside from the quizzing he would talk about his beloved Coleraine but we also shared a love of rugby and we used to engage in banter. When England were playing well in the 5/6 nations he used to joke that he would be watching Ireland v England “from behind the sofa”. With the tables turned more recently I would be the one in need of a sofa and he would tease me about England’s position in the 6N table. Always done with his fantastic sense of humour and quick wit. I still can’t believe it’s happened.

    RIP Rich

  27. My deepest condolences to Richard’s family. I hope they can take some small solace in the sheer pleasure that he and the times crossword setters ( as well as the tftt bloggers) have given all of us solvers over the years. It is the highlight of my weekdays when I do the puzzle every lunchtime and then look at the Tftt blog afterwards and I do wish a broader audience could enjoy the pleasure. To which end, I thought the quick cryptic was an excellent idea, and great kudos to Richard for having started it. I’ve done a few with my sons and they enjoy them and I’m hopeful they will get hooked and get the same enjoyment. I did have the pleasure of briefly meeting Richard at the crossword championship 4 or so years ago- he seemed a wonderful man, and great to read so many fulsome tributes from those who know him well.

  28. I first met Richard at university in 1979, where we studied French together. Being two Northern Ireland lads of course we immediately struck up conversation to establish whose school had the better rugby team (we never did agree!). That friendship lasted through uni, and then, as is almost inevitable, we moved apart as real life overtook us. To my great delight I met Richard again a couple of years later in the less thrilling world of the Civil Service where we were both working. Needless to say, this was never going to be challenge enough for an intellect as brilliant as his, and eventually he left to pursue other, more interesting pursuits, and when I next caught up with him he was “doing crosswords”. It was only some time later that I discovered that he was actually editing the Times crosswords as well as setting them. For the last few years I have met him regularly at quizzes and catching up with old friends, and we have always maintained that fun banter, exchanging tales of our latest trips to the ‘homeland’. I last saw him the day before his heart attack – as full of life as ever, battling for honours in the quiz with his son Liam, a two-person team holding their own against all comers. He will be sorely missed by all, most particularly Liam and Malika.

  29. Many, many thanks to all of you who shared your memories of RR here! My condolences to all of you as well as his family.

  30. Quite often I read obituaries and comments about someone who has died and think gosh, were they really that wonderful?
    Well in Richard’s case, he was. It is the unvarnished truth, as the above comments clearly show.
    RIP Richard, you are missed.

  31. Finding it very difficult to come to terms with this dreadful news. I first met Richard at the Listener setters’ annual dinner in Newcastle in 2004 and got to know him very well ever since. We shared a love of crosswords of course and also the beautiful game and pseudonyms drawn from it. I had the privilege to test solve hundreds of his puzzles and there was never one that I did not learn something from. Great invention and wit and always totally fair to the solver. As I used to say to him, his puzzles were on a higher plane. I think he recognised his gifts while always striving to improve further, but wore it all with complete modesty. A very clear thinker and excellent editor. My condolences to Malika, and Liam, who, if memory serves, appeared discreetly in a Times puzzle, with a welcome message soon after he was born.

  32. Very sad news indeed. I’m pretty sure Richard and I were in a Times final together before he joined the Times setting team, and there’s a pleasing draw in competitive terms after reading the obituary today – slightly better xwd championship results for me, but a slightly quicker marathon PB for Richard.

    Richard increased his workload considerably very soon after becoming Times xwd ed, by adding the Quick Cryptic. A bold move that worked very well.

  33. This is most upsetting news and I am so sad for his family. Richard was a true gentleman.
    I first met him at the Cheltenham Literature Festival a few years ago, at his wonderful sessions on solving crosswords for all comers. Shortly afterwards, we set up a regular crossword club here in Cheltenham at which he would occasionally join us if he had time, much to our great delight and appreciation.
    We meet once a month at the Old Courthouse in town, and on one Tuesday we met, he was there. The Times Cryptic for that day (11th April 2023) included the words – old, courthouse, each, second, tuesday, month, solvers, club. He had set a crossword especially for our group. What a lovely chap. He will be much missed.
    Deepest condolences to Marika and Liam.

  34. I knew Richard as an athlete through Cheltenham Harriers long before I discovered his skill as a setter of fiendish clues. Didn’t find out about that till we met one Saturday when I had just bought my paper and was bemoaning my ability to finish the crossword from the previous week. He told me with a twinkle in his eye that I would enjoy this week’s as he had set it. So sad to hear the dreadful news.
    My condolences to all his family.


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