In 1969, Susan Yoachum stood onstage at the Scripps National Spelling Bee and correctly spelled the word “interlocutory.”

(In case you were wondering, the adjective’s definition is “made during the progress of a legal action and not final or definitive,” according to Merriam-Webster.)

As the first Dallasite to win the national bee, the Hill Junior High School eighth-grader became a local celebrity. Yoachum appeared on the “Ed Sullivan Show” and conducted several interviews with local media outlets.

Later, Yoachum had a successful journalism career, which included stints at the Dallas Morning News, San Jose Mercury News, Marin Independent-Journal and the San Francisco Chronicle.

She died from breast cancer in 1998. 

“She had spoken and written movingly about her ordeal,” wrote her husband Michael Carlson in 1999. “She wanted to put a human face on a disease that is the No. 1 killer of American women ages 25-55. She hoped that by personalizing breast cancer, more might be done to prevent and cure it. And she wanted to spread the word that early detection — through monthly self-exams and regular mammograms — can increase a woman’s chance of survival.”