Life is a Puzzle for John Noer — and he Loves it that Way

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GRINNELL, Iowa — A giant project is underway at the Mayflower Community Senior Living Center in Grinnell.

John Noer has embarked on a project to piece together a puzzle with over 40,000 pieces. That’s a lot.

He recently completed puzzles of 3,000 and 9,000 pieces. This is a big jump.

Noer got a passion for puzzles when he was a 6-year-old boy, at home sick for a while.

“Spent the day at home on the couch, and there was no day-time TV then,” said Noer. “That was back in the old days, so I did a lot of reading and a lot of puzzle making.”

He said he learned a lot of puzzle building lessons from his recent puzzle of an underwater scene.

“That’s when we made our first mistake. We ripped open the two bags, looking for edge pieces and combined them all before realizing the left side was in one bag and the right side was in the other bag,” said Noer. “So that cost me probably a month of extra work.”

Noer’s siblings also like working on puzzles.

“My brother, who’s two years older than I, lives in Bedford. When we talk, we talk over the puzzle table,” said Noer.

Noer says he has a system for getting a puzzle started.

“Well, you go through and you pick out all the edge pieces. That’s what 95 percent of people who work on puzzles do because it gives you a framework to work,” said Noer.

The 40,000 piece puzzle is in 10 sections. Each about the size of a small dining room table.  When complete, it will be 22 feet long and six feet high.

Noer hopes to complete this latest puzzle in two and a half years.


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