Frank W. "Sonny" Seiler (born February 20, 1933) is an attorney from Savannah, Georgia, who, despite success in the courtroom and a prominent role in the bestselling book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, is best known as the owner of University Georgia bulldog mascots. Since the 1950s, he and his family have cared for and maintained the unbroken line of mascots of the University of Georgia English Bulldogs, known successively as Uga I - IX. Seiler is a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity, Gridiron Secret Society, and a founder of the Order of the Greek Horsemen.
History of Uga
The family received the first member of the line (today referred to as Uga I) in 1956, when Seiler was a second-year student at the University of Georgia School of Law and newly married to the former Cecelia Gunn. He was given the bulldog by a former beau of Miss. Gunn's and was intended to be a insult to Mr. Seiler. The new puppy was said to be the grandson of a white bulldog who traveled with the Georgia football team for the 1943 Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
On September 29, 1956, the Seilers brought Uga I with them to Sanford Stadium for the first Georgia Bulldogs football home game of the year against the Florida State Seminoles. Dan Magill, the Sports Information Director for the UGA Athletic Association at the time, took notice of a picture of Uga I from that game and suggested to UGA football head coach Wally Butts that Seiler have Uga attend subsequent games as the official team mascot. This began a tradition of Uga or one of his descendants being present at every University of Georgia football game, home and away.
His fifth successor, Uga VI, who, like his progenitors, was a pure white bulldog, was the vanguard of this tradition from 1999 until 2008, when he died at Seiler's Savannah home. Uga VII replaced Uga VI for the team's highly anticipated 2008 season, however, officials had initially questioned the new mascot's readiness to assume the position. Uga VII died on November 19, 2009 of congestive heart failure.
In its April 28, 1997 issue, Sports Illustrated named Uga the nation's best college mascot. Uga has been the only dog allowed in the state building in Georgia, and summer of 2006 was the 50th anniversary of the Uga line.
Seiler is also known for his legal practice in Georgia. He served as president of the State Bar of Georgia in 1973. He was featured in the book and movie Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, set in Savannah, as the lawyer who defended Jim Williams. Because of his and Uga's role in the book, Seiler ended up being cast in the film as Judge White, and has since been cast in two other movies filmed in Savannah, The Legend of Bagger Vance and The Gingerbread Man.
Seiler is a senior partner at Bouhan, Williams & Levy LLP, one of the most well-known and highly regarded firms in Savannah, Georgia, which was featured prominently in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The firm's office, the Armstrong House, as well as other locations in Savannah, were also featured in the original 1962 version of the film "Cape Fear" starring Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum.
- Seiler, Sonny; Kent Hammon (2006). Damn Good Dogs!: The Real Story of Uga, the University of Georgia's Bulldog Mascots. Champaign, Illinois: Sports Publishing L.L.C. p. 6. ISBN 1-59670-147-1.
- Seiler. Damn Good Dogs!. pp. 10–11.
- Kendall, Josh (June 28, 2008). "Georgia's Uga VI dies". The Macon Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-06-28.[dead link]
- Stroer, Joan (November 10, 1999). "Uga rated nation's top mascot in Sports Illustrated". Athens Banner-Herald. Athens Newspapers Inc. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
- "State Bar Of Georgia Past Presidents". State Bar of Georgia. Retrieved 2008-01-12.