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Paradise Valley raising money for Bil Keane memorial

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. — A Valley community wants to honor the creator of “The Family Circus” cartoon strip.

Cartoonist Bil Keane was an important part of Paradise Valley.

“The comic strip ‘Family Circus’ was born in his house at the base of Mummy Mountain,” said former Vice Mayor Mary Hamway. “He loved this area. He loved waking up every day to the mountain. He just loved our community.”

Keane died in 2011 at the age of 89. To honor their dad, Keane’s two sons created a small statue of their dad and his cartoon characters that now sits in the post office inside the Paradise Valley Town Hall.

“What they’ve done is taken a concept that was very consistent in some of Bil Keane’s comics. That is the dad giving the children a piggy back ride,” Hamway said. “The name of the statue is ‘Giddy Up Daddy.'”

Now, Hamway is leading an effort to unveil a nine-foot tall version of the statue as part of Bil Keane celebration that will be a permanent memorial somewhere on the town hall grounds.

Paradise Valley needs $75,000 to do it and recently got a big boost: It received a $20,000 donation from Manya Long, the daughter of the late Valley developer John F. Long, who was a fan of the comic strip.

“The comic strip was a part of her life growing up,” said Hamway. “She thought this was a wonderful way to honor her parents.”

Hamway is hoping to unveil the memorial on Nov. 8 to coincide with the two-year anniversary of Keane’s death. To accomplish that, the town needs to raise all of the money by April 30.