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Western Illinois University Students Mourn Beloved Bulldog Mascot

MACOMB/Moline, IL – It is with great sadness that Western Illinois University shares the loss of its beloved retired mascot, Col. Rock III (Rocky). Rocky passed away peacefully the morning of Jan. 25. He would have celebrated his 11th birthday on March 3. Rocky joined the Western Illinois University family on May 15, 2010 as a 10-week-old puppy, and for more than eight years, Rocky (aka Col. Rock III), WIU’s first official four-legged mascot since the 1970s, charmed people on and off campus with his winning personality, tricks and Bulldog smile.

Western Illinois University Students Mourn Beloved Bulldog MascotRocky, who lived with his people, Joe (executive director of auxiliary services and risk management) and Ketra Roselieb (executive director of personnel and financial affairs) – and their newborn son, Aiden – officially retired in May 2018. Joe was named Rocky’s owner and caretaker when the 10-week-old pup arrived in Macomb nearly 11 years ago. The Roseliebs are also the owners and caretakers of Rocky’s younger cousin, Ray (Col. Rock IV), who joined the family in June 2018. While Rocky still made a few public appearances after his official retirement, due to his age and declining health, he was content just hanging around the house in recent months and getting waited on hand and paw.

As Joe said when announcing Rocky’s retirement in 2018, “Raising and training Rocky is among one of the biggest highlights of my career.

“He was a part of the Roselieb family – and the Leatherneck family – for nearly 11 years. It has been an honor and privilege to care for Rocky. He was the perfect dog to bring the mascot program back to life, and it was truly a privilege and a joy being his person,” Roselieb added. “Ketra and I will miss him so much, as will so many others. He was such a good boy.”

Western Illinois University Students Mourn Beloved Bulldog MascotThe English bulldog who was named Col. Rock III, after WIU’s longtime iconic athletic director, Ray “Rock” Hanson, was donated to Western by Richard and Beth Siess of the Siess Ranch in Seneca, KS. Dr. Karen Blakeley of Macomb’s All Pets Veterinary Clinic and the WIU School of Agriculture, along with other University and community organizations and individuals, made sure Col. Rock’s care was tended to.

“I cannot begin to express the deep appreciation we have for the Siess family, Dr. Blakely, the School of Agriculture and so many people who have supported Rocky over the years. I’d also like to thank Clugston-Tibbitts Funeral Home for their help,” Joe said. “He was an asset to Western and our community, and he was a great companion.”

Under the watchful eye of his older role model, Col. Rock IV (also known as Ray) has been undergoing the same training and loving care that Rocky enjoyed over the years.

In Fall 2020, the Mascot Memorial Plaza project was unveiled outside of the University Union, which pays tribute to WIU’s live mascot, Western Illinois University Students Mourn Beloved Bulldog MascotColonel Rock, both past and present. Additional features that will be added in the coming months include a donors’ plaque, as well as a commemorative plaque that showcases a timeline of the live mascot program and each dog’s years of service. The statue is surrounded by an alumni plaza, which is comprised of bricks inscribed with the names of alumni and friends.

Donations in Rocky’s memory can be made to the Col. Rock Fund, which helps supplement the live mascot program. Text the word “COLROCK” to 41444 to make a gift of any size to the WIU Foundation. Donations, made payable to WIU Foundation, can also be sent to: WIU Foundation, 303 Sherman Hall, 1 University Circle, Macomb, IL 61455-1390. Contributors who send in donations are asked to include a note that designates the gifts for Colonel Rock’s Fund.

Rocky’s many antics, appearances and more from over the years can be found on https://www.facebook.com/Col.RockMascot.

Western Illinois University Students Mourn Beloved Bulldog Mascot

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Sean Leary Director of Digital Media

Sean Leary is an author, director, artist, musician, producer and entrepreneur who has been writing professionally since debuting at age 11 in the pages of the Comics Buyers Guide. An honors graduate of the University of Southern California masters program, he has written over 50 books including the best-sellers The Arimathean, Every Number is Lucky to Someone and We Are All Characters.

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