SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler, a notable lawyer known as the man behind today’s lineage of the Georgia Bulldog mascot, “Uga,” has died in his hometown of Savannah following a brief illness.

A prominent attorney, he also served as lead defense counsel in the Jim Williams murder trials that were made famous by Midnight in the Garden of Good by John Berendt.

Seiler, born on February 20, 1933, dedicated his life to his legal profession, his city and his state — but, you may know him for his work with Georgia’s famous four-legged mascot “Uga.”

However, what you may not know is the story of how Sonny Seiler came to be UGA’s leading man for its legendary mascot. More than six decades ago, Seiler and his wife Cecilia brought their English Bulldog to the season-opening football game after then-coach Wally Butts asked the couple to bring the dog along. Since then, the family has raised each of the continual lines of mascots including the present “Uga XI.”

Our sister station, WSAV in Savannah, spoke to Seiler in October of last year after the passing of another UGA legend, coach Vince Dooley. He told News 3 that Dooley loved Seiler’s line of beloved bulldogs.

Seiler also served as a member of the University of Georgia Athletic Association Board of Directors, President of the University of Georgia National Alumni Association, member of the Board of Directors for the Georgia Student Educational Fund, Chairman of the University of Georgia School of Law Board of Visitors, member of the President’s Club, and member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Georgia Foundation.

Seiler has been recognized with the Distinguished American Award given by the UGA Chapter of the National Football Foundation. In 2001, he and his wife Cecelia were recipients of the UGA Alumni Association’s National Alumni Merit Award, the highest recognition given by the University to its alumni.

To learn more about Sonny Seiler and his impact across Georgia, click or tap here.