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Tuesday, June 7, 1994 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Cloud Of Mystery Shades Sunny Boy

"Sunny Boy," the 74-year-old wooden statue the University of Washington called its mascot for three years, forgotten for the better part of the century, is missing.

The statue's ignoble and somewhat obscure history took a dastardly turn Saturday when it was stolen from its post in the entry of the UW Alumni Association offices at the corner of Northeast 45th Street and 15th Avenue Northeast.

The 70-pound, 3 1/2-foot statue was noticed missing yesterday. Patti Daves, director of the Alumni Association, suspects a prank.

"At this point we just want him back," she said, "no questions asked."

Sunny Boy, painted gold, was introduced to the school in 1920 when Washington's nickname was "Sundodgers." The image of Sunny Boy was taken from a cartoon in a campus magazine.The resulting statue, which carried a football under one arm, a stack of books under the other, became the school's first mascot.

But Sunny Boy's popularity was short-lived. The school, bending to public pressure, favored a new nickname, one that did not pertain to Seattle's cloudy weather. In 1923, the school changed its nickname to Huskies and Sunny Boy was deposited in a fraternity trophy case.

This is not the first time Sunny Boy has been the victim of theft. Stolen from a fraternity trophy case in 1925, Sunny Boy ended up in South Bend, Ind., planted in the backyard of W.G. Ponader, where it stayed until 1948.

A curious gardener named Frank Sabo traced the statue back to the UW.

The statue was returned to the UW at its 1948 game against Notre Dame. In a formal ceremony, Notre Dame's assistant athletic director Edward Krause presented Sunny Boy to UW Alumni Association director R. Bronsdon Harris.

Copyright (c) 1994 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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