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Plans under way for memorial to gaming icon in Lake Geneva

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Kayla Bunge
August 1, 2009
— Gary Gygax, co-creator of the fantasy game Dungeons & Dragons and father of the role-playing phenomenon, gave millions of men and women a gift: husbands, wives and lifelong friends.

Gygax's wife, Gail, and his children want the local gaming giant to be remembered for his immeasurable contribution by erecting a memorial statue of him in his hometown.


Gygax died March 4, 2008, at his home in Lake Geneva. He was 69.


The memorial statue would serve as somewhat of a resting place for his legacy in his hometown, which he loved so much, Gail said.


"That is my mission, to get that (statue) as an appreciation for what he gave people throughout the world," she said.


"Through his games, these men and women developed lifelong relationships," she added. "His games taught them friendship and respect and teamwork. It was more than a game; it was life."


In 1974, Gygax and Dave Arneson developed Dungeons & Dragons, a game of medieval characters and mythical creatures in which players create fictional characters and carry out their adventures with the help of complicated rules.


In 1967, Gygax founded Gen Con, which is recognized as one of the longest-running and prominent gaming conventions in the world.


He also was a prolific writer and wrote dozens of fantasy books.


Gail said she and Gary discussed the idea of a memorial statue before he died. He wanted to be cremated. She suggested erecting a statue in Library Park, where he often spent hours reading and writing.


"He loved that idea," she said.


Gail is working with a local attorney to form a corporation to begin raising money for the project. She also is planning a fundraiser to be held during Gen Con in 2010.


At that time, some of her husband's personal items, including original manuscripts, will be auctioned off.


She said big names in the gaming, computer and film industries already have contacted her with interest in supporting the project.


She said local businesspeople likely will join the ranks, too.


"There's this big support network of fans he touched throughout his life," she said.


Gail and her family will present their idea Wednesday to the Lake Geneva Park Board.


"It's going to be a fun project," she said. "It's what he gave to people. It's how he affected their lives.


"It's not the game; it's the gift he gave to people. I hope they embrace that."


Gail is hopeful city officials will recognize her husband's contributions above and beyond gaming and match some of the money raised for the project.


She declined to offer details about the appearance or exact placement of the memorial statue until plans are firmed up.


"It's something he wanted, and something his fans would want," she said.


"It's going to be very tasteful."



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