Colonel Rock

The Story of Colonel Rock

Colonel Rock I: "The Beginning"

Western Illinois' first live mascot made its first appearance on Oct 10, 1959. The English Bulldog, which was purchased by the Student Government Association, was officially named Colonel Rock, following a contest in which more than 200 entries were received. The winning entry was chosen to honor former WIU Coach and Athletics Director, Ray "Rock" Hanson. A highly decorated veteran of World War I and World War II, Col. Hanson was responsible for bringing the Leathernecks nickname and the Marine Corps' traditions to Western Illinois University. Colonel Rock I was cared for by the John Storey family of Macomb.

Read Dr. Bruce Storey's "Story"

Colonel Rock I with the late WIU Coach and AD, Ray "Rock" Hanson
Colonel Rock II
Colonel Rock II

Colonel Rock II: "Continuing with Tradition"

After Colonel Rock I passed away in February 1966 during his second cancer operation, Capt. Dale A. Luster, a recruiter from the Marine Corps League of Chicago, was instrumental in assisting the Corps' purchase of Colonel Rock II, aka "Rocky." On Sept. 26, 1968, Luster was killed in action in North Vietnam. In 1973, Colonel Rock II retired and the first costumed version of Western's mascot took the place of the canine mascot.

Colonel Rock: "The Era of the Unknowns"

Throughout the remainder of the 1970s, and into the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s, several members of the WIU and Macomb communities kept the tradition of the live mascot alive as they volunteered their own English Bulldogs to serve in the capacity of the mascot. Two families in particular were the Don and Edy Daniels family of Colchester, Illinois, and the Riggens family from Carthage, Illinois, who bred and often brought their English bulldogs to the WIU campus.

Unknown Colonel Rock
Colonel Rock III "Rocky"

Colonel Rock III: "A New Era"

On May 15, 2010, Western revived the live mascot program, ending the 37-year hiatus, when Colonel Rock III aka "Rocky" was introduced. Beth and Richard Siess of the Siess Ranch in Seneca, KS, donated the 10-week old English Bulldog to WIU. Joe Roselieb, an employee within WIU's Student Services Division, was named caretaker for WIU's new mascot. Eight years later, after a successful mascot career, Colonel Rock III officially retired. On January 25, 2021, just shy of his 11th birthday, Colonel Rock III passed away due to health-related issues.

Colonel Rock IV: "The Future""

On June 7, 2018, WIU welcomed Colonel Rock IV aka "Ray" as the newest addition to the Leatherneck family. Like his predecessor, the then-16-week-old English Bulldog (born on Valentine's Day) was donated by the Siess Ranch. Although not directly related, there is a distant lineage between Colonel Rock III and Colonel Rock IV. Like Rocky, the Roselieb Family serve as Ray's caretakers and handlers.

Colonel Rock IV "Ray"