Bold and Bronze

Though 2021 marked the ten-year anniversary of Wil’s statue installation, the campus icon was 80 years in the making.

On November 4, 2011, SDSU’s beloved Weary Wil took up a permanent post outside the Hobo Day Gallery of the Student Union. Though 2021 marked the ten-year anniversary of Wil’s statue installation, the campus icon was 80 years in the making.

The character of Weary Wil first appeared as a caricature on a mural in the old Pugsley Union in 1941, painted by student Keith Cox. In the artwork, the mascot first known as “Weary Willie” was gazing at an advertisement for the upcoming Hobo Day celebration. The figure of Weary Willie quickly became synonymous with homecoming at SDSU, appearing across posters, buttons, and marketing materials.

By 1950, the Jackrabbit community brought Weary Willie to life, with student Walt Conahan serving as the first physical personification of the character at the Hobo Day Parade.

After that revolutionary appearance, Wil continued to add zest to the parade, spreading excitement and hobo hype.

Weary Wil became such a popular figure for the festivities that SDSU later decided he could use a companion. As a result, Dirty Lil – inspired by the lyrics of a well-known song of the 1970s performed at homecoming revelry—came to life in 1980 with her first appearance at the parade alongside Wil.

The Statues

Much like the inspiration for the dynamic duo, the statue of Wil came first. Sculpted by alumnus David Anderson, the Weary Wil statue was modeled after fellow alum, David Blegen.

When the university decided to construct the Hobo Day Gallery, the two Davids dreamed up the idea to create a lasting tribute to SDSU’s favorite dynamic duo.

Anderson created the Wil sculpture first, unveiled in 2011. Nearly two years later, on the eve of Hobo Day, Dirty Lil was added next to Wil on October 4, 2013.

Though the statues depict the characters celebrated for over half a century at SDSU, they also are based on real Jackrabbits from the university. Anderson modeled Weary Wil after his cohort, Blegen, a 1963 Hobo Day Chairman and Distinguished Alumnus who was instrumental in catalyzing the statue project. Fortunately, with his beaming smile and signature beard, Blegen bears a more-than-passing resemblance to Wil.

Anderson sought to emulate the essence of the university through Wil’s statue.

“I tried to capture the spirit of a proud, confident, and successful ‘hobo by choice’ who nobly carries the SDSU logo with him on his travels, grateful for all that SDSU has given him,” said Anderson.

Lil’s statue is also a blend of caricature and real life. Funded through a gift to the SDSU Foundation from the Robert and Anita Quast Lawe Foundation, Lil is modeled for Anita Quast, SDSU’s 1938 homecoming queen.

The statues of Weary Wil and Dirty Lil are quite literally larger than life, measuring at 8 ½ feet tall and weighing 1,000 pounds each. Anderson explained that he aimed to tie in an air of sophistication with Wil’s attire: his hobo ensemble is complete with spats, and the hint of a Rolex wristwatch is visible near his sleeve.

Dirty Lil and Weary Wil statues overlooking beautiful fall landscaping.

Through the talents and generosity of SDSU alumni, the Weary Wil statue has become an infamous landmark of the campus, alongside his equally beloved counterpart, Dirty Lil.

As Anderson described in the unveiling ceremony:

“This whimsical icon conveys the pride and enthusiasm of being a Jackrabbit and represents the traditions and memories of Hobo Day.”