Meet Georgia’s Top Dawg
SONNY SEILER: This lawyer and author owns the state’s favorite canine
Every true Georgia Bulldog fan knows the seven Ugas have been damn good dogs, but how many know that their owner Frank Wilkins “Sonny” Seiler has been a damn good man?
Marathon swimmer, movie actor, author, president of the University of Georgia Alumni Association, chairman of the University of Georgia Development Fund for the first district of Georgia, director of the University of Georgia Athletic Association and president of the State Bar of Georgia – he’s done it all.
At the University of Georgia he was president of Sigma Chi fraternity, the interfraternity council and the Gridiron Secret Society and was elected to the Sphinx Club, the highest honor a male student can attain. He also was a member of the varsity swim team.
In the years since, he’s chaired the Institute of Continuing Legal Education for the State Bar of Georgia and received the Distinguished Service award from the University of Georgia Law School.
Seiler, who has practiced law for the past 50 years, is a trial lawyer and senior partner in the Savannah firm of Bouhan, Williams and Levy. He co-authored a book with Kent Hannon, Damn Good Dogs – the real story of the canines known as Uga, Georgia’s nationally acclaimed mascots. He’s also appeared in three movies Gingerbread Man, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and The Legend of Bagger Vance.
When he was 22 and a UGA law student, he and his Bulldog swimming teammate, Jack Schaaf slipped into the Savannah River and swam six hours to Tybee Island, a distance of 14 miles. It was the first time the feat had been accomplished in 25 years. It was daylight when they started, dark when they finished.
Seiler grew up in Savannah and attended Porter Military Academy, a prep school in Charleston, SC. “Mother thought I needed a lot of prep work before I entered college,” he says.
He graduated from Porter on time and entered Newberry (SC) College as a freshman. He stayed only one year, as the college had no ROTC program and Seiler had his heart set on a military commission. That led him to the University of Georgia where he joined the ROTC and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Army upon graduation in 1957.
If you think all this extra-curricular activity has slowed his success in his law practice, think again. He has been listed among the “Best Lawyers in America” the past 11 years.
Sonny is married to the former Cecilia Gunn of Columbus, Ga. They live on Whitemarsh Island, about 20 minutes from his Savannah office. They have four children: one son, Charles Wilkins Seiler and three daughters, Swann Seiler, Bess Thompson and Sara Story.