The Wyoming Riddler

Joe Cramer, aka The Wyoming Riddler passed away on Friday, May 22, 2020. For 33 years, he did free treasure hunts in the greater Grand Rapids area. He developed the riddles as a way to keep his mind sharp after surviving a serious case of carbon monoxide poising in 1978. He also wrote a book called "Joe's Story: The Book of a Lifetime" which was sold on Amazon. While the treasure hunts were free, they were also used as a vehicle to remind and educate people about the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning. His website is still up; take a look around.

The following is from Joe's website:

Joe contracted carbon monoxide poisoning in an industrial accident. The result was an extreme personality change and loss of memory for over 2 years. "Joe's Story", is a compelling narration of a life that had been lost and returned as well as the consequences following the poisoning. Left on his doorstep in his family's care because he was exhibiting strange uncontrollable behavior, couldn't drive or even speak intelligently. With no apparent medical treatment available for his condition, he and his family were left to deal with the confusing array of symptoms through their own ingenuity and courage. Nothing less than  frightening at times and downright laughable at others it's the tale of struggle and victory over enormous odd, refusing to admit defeat.

Fiercely independent, resourceful, determined and lovable, they present an unforgettable example of the strength of a truly American family. The endearing childhood, coming of age and adult stories will tickle your funny bone, bring tears to your eyes and touch your heart. With the firm belief that he can overcome any challenge Joe infuses his family with the same confidence. These beliefs become their strengths when they are most needed, although shaken at times, their faith in God and each other remains intact, literally crushing any obstacles on their path.

This story had to told, from the very beginning  on order to bring to light not only the real dangers we face on a daily basis, but also how ordinary people can accomplish great things. Strength, Faith and determination are the mainstay of our society and it shines in "Joe's Story".

Joe is self-employed as an auto detailer, owning a small business since High School, a surprising background for a writer. However, his life has been a series of adventures, great and small, but always interesting. Since the return of his memory after amnesia resulting from an industrial accident involving carbon monoxide, Joe has been passionately writing about it. He has sponsored a riddle based treasure hunt for 26 years to celebrate the return of his memory garnering as many as 40,000 participants from all over the United States and abroad. As a guest speaker he has described his experiences without a memory at several business clubs in the surrounding area to help maintain awareness of the dangers of carbon monoxide. He's developed riddles and games upon request for schools, hospitals, a museum, private companies, charities and television stations throughout Western Michigan. He's featured over the years on television news specials, as well as several radio talk shows including BBC in London, England, Johannesburg, South Africa and Michigan Public Radio. He is well known in the community through his charitable efforts and constant exposure in the newspapers regarding the annual riddle. Hundreds of people have expressed an interest in his writings, but most of all, encouraged him to write his complete story. Finally, when a producer and screenwriter expressed interest in his life and urged him to write it down he put his story in book form. He wrote, "Joe's Story. It's the book of a lifetime!

Some selected news articles:

The last treasure hunt: ‘Wyoming Riddler’ retires after 34 years of silver bounty
Every winter, hundreds of people living around Grand Rapids go on a treasure hunt of sorts. They’ve been doing it for decades. Robert Lyons has been hooked on the treasure hunt for 25 years. Over the years, he’s taken his kids and even his grandkids. Lyons found the treasure once. He’s still got the newspaper clipping....

Veteran treasure hunter solves the last 'Wyoming Riddle'
I got some bittersweet news this morning. Bitter because after more than 30 years running, the last “Wyoming Riddler” treasure hunt is over. Sweet because one of the veteran hunters I followed to tell the story last month turned out to be the winner...

One last chance: Here's the Wyoming Riddler's final puzzle
Joe Cramer, also known as the Wyoming Riddler for more than three decades, issues his final puzzle today. Here’s the deal: Cramer has hidden a small, oval medallion out in the snow somewhere in the greater Grand Rapids area, and you can use a street map to decipher the riddle and find it. A mug and treasure of silver items awaits the winner. And this is your last chance...

The alchemy of silver and carbon monoxide? Hint: it’s a riddle
For 33 years, Joseph Cramer sent area residents on mind-bending treasure hunts. Not for the short on patience, each hunt began with a nebulous riddle and ended with a prize: a silver medallion from Cramer’s vast collection...