'Family Circus' mom dies

Filed under: Life & Style, In The News, That's Entertainment

When I was very young, the only part of the newspaper that appealed to me was the comics section. As I grew older, I began to read the other sections, but I never stopped reading the funnies. Some of those strips have been around longer than I have and reading them is like visiting an old friend. One of those old friends is Bil Keane's Family Circus.

The dark-haired, endlessly patient mommy in that strip was based on Keane's own wife, Thelma. Sadly, she passed away this past Friday of Alzheimer's disease. Thelma was 82 years old and Keane says that without her, there never would have been a Family Circus. "I give all the credit to my wife Thel who was the inspiration for all the cartoons," Keane said. "The loss means she was very, very vital to any success that I had.

Bil recalls meeting the woman who would change his life: "Thel was a very pretty 18-year-old with a gorgeous figure, long brown hair and I just happened to have a desk drawing next to her and I got the nerve to ask her out," Keane said. "We started laughing then and never stopped." They married in 1948 and together raised five children - Gayle, Neal, Glen, Jeff and Christopher. "She was full of life and she made life fun," says Gayle.

Memorial services for Thelma Keane will be held this Saturday in Sun City, Arizona. Memorial donations can be made to the Sun Health Research Institute in Sun City or the local Alzheimer's Association.

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