Rustler Sam Turns 40

Golden West College’s mascot, Rustler Sam, celebrated his 40 Birthday at the Associated Students’ back to school event on September 3, 2009

Rustler Sam was created in an era when TV westerns were all the rage and movie cowboys had yet to be replaced by firefighters as the rescue heroes of choice.

Students who admired the nationally syndicated Tumbleweeds comic strip character Tumbleweed wrote to its creator, Tom K. Ryan, in Muncie, Ind., in 1968 to ask if they could use it as their mascot.
Ryan wrote back to say that he didn’t think Sagebrush Sam would work, but he drew them their very own cowpoke instead.

As payment, Ryan asked for an “extra large sweatshirt with emblem imprint when available,” a school pennant and pictures of the college.

Rustler Sam was adopted by the campus as the official mascot in 1969.

The original Rustler Sam had a beard and a cigarette drooping from his lips.

In the 1990s, students concerned about the dangers of smoking sparked a redesign that gave Sam a shave and removed his smoke. He still holds a branding iron, which real rustlers used to change the brands on cattle they had stolen, and a holster on one hip.

Sam’s trusty horse Bob was created by GWC Graphic Designer Dave Dluzak in 2004.