Hal Sandy, NEJC resident who designed world-famous Jayhawk logo, passes away at 93

Hal and Wilda Sandy at the 1996 parade marking the 50th anniversary of his Jayhawk design.
Hal and Wilda Sandy at the 1996 parade marking the 50th anniversary of his Jayhawk design.

The northeast Johnson County man who designed one of the most recognizable logos in all of college sports has passed away.

Hal Sandy, who lived much of his life in Westwood Hills and who moved to Claridge Court in Prairie Village with his wife Wilda in recent years, died last week at the age of 93.

As a student at the University of Kansas, Sandy designed what has come to be known as the “smiling Jayhawk,” a tweak on the graphic that had been adopted by the university in 1941 that depicted a scowling bird with a frown on its face.

Sandy's Jayhawk logo, top, replaced the angrier version that had been in use by the school before.
Sandy’s Jayhawk logo, top, replaced the angrier version that had been in use by the school before.

Sandy recalled that he enrolled in classes at KU as quickly as he could after being discharged from the army, and started taking classes in the summer of 1946. Shortly thereafter, Ed Browne, the school’s public relations head, challenged Sandy to recraft the mascot to reflect the optimistic mood of the post-war era.

He sketched out precisely one version of the design.

“I believe in doing things as quick as you can,” Sandy said in an interview a decade ago. “I drew it one time, and I was satisfied.”

Sandy printed his friendlier looking design on decals and sold them across Lawrence, earning enough income from the effort to finance his final two years of college. When he graduated in 1947, he sold rights to his design to the Kansas Union Bookstore for $250.

He went on to a career in advertising, founding his own agency that served a variety of major national clients.

In 1996, KU marked the 50th anniversary of Sandy’s Jayhawk logo with a parade down Jayhawk Boulevard.

An interview Sandy did with KU’s Max Max Falkenstien in the 2000s is below: