by Kathy Carlson, Wyoming State Law Library
WestPac Willy (also known as Willie WestPac) was originally created in 1996 by then-Editor Harriet Zook of Pacific McGeorge School of Law as the masthead for the WestPac Newsletter. At that time Beanie Babies were all the rage and Harriet’s mother dressed several Beanie Baby buffalos to look like the masthead. Those Beanie Baby Willys have provided the model for all subsequent Willys.
The large Willy was donated by Mary Jenny of the University of Wyoming when she was chair of the Publicity Committee. She made his first Hawaiian shirt and in the beginning he had a lei wrapped around his horns. He was originally created to be placed on the WestPac table in the activities area at the 1997 AALL annual meeting in Baltimore.
Large Willy attended several AALL annual meetings before it was determined that he was just too difficult to transport back and forth given his size. A decision was made that one of the smaller Beanie Baby models would attend the AALL annual meetings and the larger version would travel from host city to host city for the WestPac annual chapter meetings.
Large Willy has been all over WestPac territory. Several host cities sent correspondence about Willy’s activities while in residence. This correspondence indicates that Willy has done quite a bit of sightseeing in his travels. He has done such things as attend the start of the Iditarod in Anchorage and spend time on the beach in Hawaii. Willy also had some wardrobe additions along the way—in Alaska he was given a pair of sweatpants because of the temperature and in Oregon it was felt he didn’t quite fit in with his Hawaiian shirt so he was provided a tie-dyed shirt. However, he has always reverted to his traditional Hawaiian shirt at transfer time.
Willy was also the star of the Lisa Jackson production Willy Does WestPac that was filmed for the talent show at the 2006 AALL centennial meeting in St. Louis. Willy was mailed from one WestPac venue to another for photographic sessions. This production was quite a sensation.
After Willy Does WestPac was completed, he was given a complete refurbishment by Harriet Zook and her mother so he looks like new. He should be able to continue to serve as WestPac’s mascot for many more years to come.