Remembering a Georgia legend … Rest in peace, Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler!

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Remembering a Georgia legend … Rest in peace, Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler!

There is no doubt in my mind that Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler sure would have absolutely loved this past weekend in Athens. From the pulse of the big rivalry game being felt as early as Wednesday or Thursday to the bustling Athens bars and restaurants on Friday night to the ideal 3:30 p.m. kickoff that ended with the climax of our Bulldogs having to dig deep to get another victory on this 2023 campaign.

If you knew Sonny, then you know how much he loved every facet and essence of what being a diehard Georgia Bulldog encompasses. In fact in 1956, he loved it so much that as a law school student (with his newlywed bride Cecilia) he added another dimension to the allure of the University of Georgia.





Yes, I’m talking about Uga … the greatest mascot on the planet, whose lineage continues today because of the dedication of Sonny and his family.

Unfortunately, Sonny departed to heaven on August 28, but not without leaving a monumental legacy. My wife, Cheri, and I attended Sonny’s celebration of life in Savannah and I must say it was terrific. It was an upbeat celebration of a life well lived.

Just after Sonny’s passing, we decided that our tribute to him would go in this UAB issue. We wanted to make sure we had enough time to guarantee our sendoff would be special for a man we so loved and adored. It was on the way back to Athens (after the service) that this special tribute section (pages 13-20) really began to take shape. Cheri and I marveled at the wonderful job Sonny’s oldest grandchild, Margaret Story Bardwell and Loran Smith did with their eulogies. Since both were so special, we decided to ask them if they minded us printing them in their entirety in our tribute. Thankfully, they agreed, so now our readers (along with some fun Sonny images) get the privilege of enjoying the wonderful words spoken about a wonderful, man and Damn Good Dawg.





Also, in the Sonny tribute section, enjoy a column that longtime Georgia newspaperman Dink NeSmith wrote after Sonny’s passing. I loved how Dink spoke of Sonny’s distinct voice. It is definitely what I’m going to miss the most. It was always robust and upbeat. Thanks so much Dink for sharing.

In the section, you will also find the first installment of Loran Smith’s new writing series called Grand Georgia Couples. Of course, Loran and I were in lockstep that Cecilia and Sonny Seiler had to debut this fun series. After all, they are the quintessential University of Georgia grand couple. I know you will enjoy Loran’s piece.

And last but certainly not least (two pages past this one), Jeff Dantzler knocks it out of the park with his wonderful sendoff to Sonny. Nice job, JD!

Finally, in wrapping up my preview of our Sonny tribute, I want to express how much Cheri and I appreciated our friendship and relationship with Mr. Seiler. In similar fashion to him creating and maintaining the Uga legacy, Cheri and I started Bulldawg Illustrated because of our love of the University of Georgia and its beloved football team. And now with a blink of an eye, we are in our third decade of producing our publication. We love you so much Sonny Seiler and promise to continue to put as much passion in BI as you and your family have with overseeing our University’s mascot.

Rest in Peace, Frank W. “Sonny” Seiler.

Beyond our special tribute, this issue of BI will certainly get you ready for the night game versus UAB. As I mentioned above, I have no problem that this 2023 Georgia team had to overcome some adversity in beating South Carolina. In fact, as far back as the summer (and leading all the way up to kickoff) I told my closest friends that we (the team) would truly find out whom our quarterback was when we went into the locker room at halftime down either 20-7 or 14-3 to the Gamecocks. Darn if I didn’t nail it. I believed this because I knew Shane Beamer would bring his team into Athens ready to fight from the opening whistle. And that they did! Also, I was a firm believer (and still am) that this team was going to be a work in progress in the month of September. Again, correct, but who is counting.

However, what I didn’t get right was that I thought potentially someone other than Carson Beck would take the field in the third quarter. Kirby Smart stuck with his guy and our Dawgs scratched out a heckuva SEC victory. By the way, Beck has yet to throw an interception in three games for all the complainers out there.

The game on Saturday night is another opportunity for this team to get better, which is in fact happening each and every week. Let’s light up Sanford in support of them.

I’m running out of space, but I encourage you to enjoy our Social section features highlighting Beth Ladd (Georgia Girls, pages 32, 33), Terry Allen (MIXTAPE, page 35) and Wells Ellenberg (Proust Q&A, page 47). Terry’s selection of music is as epic as his photography that Athenians have enjoyed for decades. And Wells loves golf, Hemingway and Jimmy Buffet. Enough said. And Beth’s Reba McEntire quote is priceless.

Enjoy the good times Georgia fans and enjoy being a Georgia Bulldog like Sonny Seiler did for 90 years. See you in Sanford on Saturday. Go Dawgs!!





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