Butler Blue I, the white English bulldog who served as Butler University’s first official live mascot, died May 30 at the age of 13.
While Blue was famous throughout the state and beyond, she was particularly special to the residents of Hendricks County, where she was born.
Blue I was born Sept. 23, 2000, at Frank and Jeane King’s Kong King Kennel in Lizton. She served as Butler University’s official mascot from 2000-04, and then accompanied her human companion, Kelli Walker, to Bellingham, Wash.; Morris, Ill.; and Chicago.
“For over 13 years Blue lived an extraordinary life,” Walker said. “Her noble heart stopped today; instead of feeling empty, my heart is twice as full for loving her.”
The concept of “Butler Blue” existed for about a year before Blue I, as she was known, became an integral part of life at Butler and beyond. Walker worked in Butler’s Office of Alumni and Parent Programs from 1998-2004; in 1999, she began exploring what a live mascot program would encompass.
Under the initially skeptical and ultimately supportive leadership of William T. Farkas, then executive director of Alumni and Development Programs, Walker gathered information from peer institutions (including Drake University, the University of Georgia, and Yale University). Then-Butler President Gwen Fountain supported the initiative, and in fact insisted on including Blue I in her presidential portrait, which currently hangs in Robertson Hall.
Carving out a place in an academic institution for a live mascot program was a multi-faceted effort, including securing financial support from an anonymous alumni donor to purchase the original dog. Subsequent mascots have been donated by Kong King Kennel, which quickly became beloved members of the Butler family. Food and veterinary care was provided by Dr. Kurt Phillips.
In the fall of 2000, Butler held a community-wide naming contest for the new mascot. While “Hinkle,” “Hampton,” and even “Buttercup” were popular vote-getters, “Butler Blue” was the top choice.