The Bear statue located across from the Bair Family Student Center is a well-known staple of Rocky Mountain
The Bear is shown on campus tours and is a part of many first and last day photos. While every RMC student is familiar with The Bear, many get his official name wrong.
Rocky Bear was created by artist Lyndon Faye Pomeroy and installed on campus in September 1997 after nine months of construction.
Pomeroy was a local artist who, at the time of constructing the statue, had been creating steel sculptures for 36 years. His work can be found throughout the Midwest and across the globe.
When it came time to construct Rocky Bear, Pomeroy studied the look of grizzly bears in depth—using the internet and various books to view as many images as possible. The largest influence on the design of Rocky Bear came from a book by a photographer who captured images of bears in Alaska.
According to an article on Pomeroy from Top of The Rock, RMC’s previous student paper, the artist believed the grizzly was a prairie animal and saw the mountains as the government’s zoo.
Pomeroy used symbolism in his sculpting of the statue to establish a connection with the bear’s natural habitat — which is teeming with ponderosa pines.
“If you look, notice each piece of the bear I’ve designed is in units of seven. The ponderosa pine has seven needles in a cluster,” Pomeroy stated in a 1997 interview.
Weighing 3,240 pounds, six ounces, and standing at 12 feet and four inches — Rocky Bear is a literal hunk of metal.
The sculpture was created out of seven distinct four by six sheets of steel. Four of the sheets were used for the structure and the remaining three were used for texture.
Pomeroy’s sculpture required only two tools to create, one for cutting and one for welding. The simplest part of the figure appears to be its washer eyes.
Although commissioned to construct The Bear, Pomeroy was not an alumnus of RMC. However, he did have connections with Rocky’s staff.
Many students who toured RMC’s campus had the statue incorrectly introduced to them as “Pat the Bear” through the student ambassador program.
“Pat the Bear? I have never heard of that before. Stop calling him that,” chuckled Brad Nason, the dean of students.
Nason subsequently reached out to admissions and they concluded “Pat” was the name of the student who wore the mascot costume at one point in Rocky’s history.
Over time, the name “Pat” became associated with the statue. In the original article published about The Bear, it was stated that its nickname was “Curly.” However, that name is never explained and it appears the label was lost to history.
Many RMC officials are not fans of the statue being called “Pat” and are in favor of it being referred to as either “Rocky Bear” or “The Bear.”
The Bear was moved once in 2001, but is not scheduled to be moved again.
Both the statue and the memorial garden surrounding it are vital components of campus history. The steel statue is Rocky Mountain College’s permanent Battlin’ Bear.