Uphill, Both Ways

Uphill, Both Ways
Honoring the Man Who Started Everything

Allen Varney | 27 Apr 2010 12:30
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There are actually two different monument efforts, run by two separate, fractious groups of Gygax heirs. The Gygax Family Memorial was founded by the five children Gary had with his first wife, Mary Jo: Ernie, Elise, Heidi, Cindy and Luke. (You can remember their names and birth order if you know Gygax's campaign world, Greyhawk, and the drow city of Erelhei-Cinlu.) The Family Memorial runs GaryCon, a small nonprofit gaming convention held in Lake Geneva for the last two years. At GaryCon I in March 2009, the family displayed its proposed Gygax memorial concept - a sleeping dragon on a pedestal - by sculptor Keith Christensen.

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The other group, the Gygax Memorial Fund, is run by Gary's second wife, Gail. She has proposed a bronze bust atop a castle turret, to be placed on Lake Geneva's Library Park lakefront, where Gygax had often spent hours reading and writing. (Gary and Gail's son, Alex, is not involved with either group.)

Unfortunately, these groups get along about as well as the Judean People's Front and the People's Front of Judea. The Family Memorial has publicly disavowed any association with the Memorial Fund. (Stop rolling your eyes. What, you've never fought with your family?)

Fans have so far avoided taking sides. The Unofficial Gary Gygax Statue Facebook fan page, which garnered 2,500 followers in its first week, has attracted posts from both memorial groups. In February, Gail Gygax reported that the Lake Geneva town council was revising its Parks Policy approval process. "Once this is completed, I can apply for a site. I will have a better handle on timing, etc. I will ask for Library Park first, then Donnan Park by the White River. I will get a spot, of that I am sure." Heidi Gygax, Gary's middle daughter, wrote, "If this does not go through for any reason, his children will do whatever we can to get an alternative and fitting memorial in place for our father. We miss him terribly, yet are so proud of him and his works, and so touched by the outpouring of support from so many people!"

Currently, the Gygaxian progeny are deferring to their stepmother's efforts to secure a site. If she succeeds, they plan to contribute GaryCon funds for the memorial. Bill Cousino, a former bartender and firefighter, is married to Elise Gygax-Cousino, who in 1972 helped playtest the very first D&D game ever. In a March 2010 interview with Derek "Geekpreacher" White at GaryCon II, Cousino spoke for the Gygax Family group:

"The memorial - that's - it's touchy, but [...] the family would like to see a statue or a memorial for Gary Gygax here in Lake Geneva. And so the family is working on putting that there. There's two different ideas, but we have all come to a consensus that we're gonna have the - the Gygax Memorial Fund is going to be the one that is doing the monument. If in case that doesn't transpire, Gygax Family Memorial is going to continue on the project that we started last year with the monument that my brother [Keith Christensen] created and that was introduced at GaryCon I.

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