Savannah — Cecelia Seiler, wife of Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler, and owner of the University of Georgia lineage of “Uga” Bulldog mascots for more than a half century, passed away in Savannah on Thursday.
“Cecelia’s devotion to the University of Georgia was surpassed only by her devotion to Sonny and the family. We all mourn her passing and are so thankful for her faithful love and care for the Bulldog tradition,” Georgia President Jere W. Morehead said.
Seiler, the former Cecelia Gunn, was a native of Columbus, Georgia. She married Sonny while they were students at the University of Georgia. In 1956, while Sonny was in law school at UGA, the couple received an English Bulldog as a belated wedding gift. That fall, Cecelia altered a red children’s t-shirt to fit the puppy and sewed a “G” she cut out of black felt onto the garment. On Sept. 19, 1956, the Seilers dressed the bulldog in the shirt and brought it to both a party and then to the Bulldogs’ football game against Florida State.
Shortly thereafter, Uga I was named the official mascot of the University of Georgia.
While the Seilers moved to Sonny’s hometown of Savannah after he graduated from law school in Athens, Uga has remained the university’s mascot. Russ was officially installed as Uga IX on Sept. 15, 2012.
Cecelia is survived by Sonny; children Swann Seiler and Charles Seiler of Savannah, Bess Thompson of St. Simons and Sara Storey of Athens; and seven grandchildren.
Georgia football coach Mark Richt expressed his condolences.
“My heart goes out to Sonny and the Seiler family on the passing of Cecelia. I know that my thoughts and prayers and those of the entire Bulldog nation are with the family.”
Former Georgia AD and coach Vince Dooley did as well.
“Cecelia was truly the matriarch and a force behind the Uga tradition. God bless her and the family,” Dooley said.