More than 1,000 people crammed into George Watts Hill Alumni Center and spilled into the hallway Wednesday to remember Rob Hogan, the man the University knew as the owner and caretaker of the living ram mascot, Rameses.
Hogan, 54, died Friday from complications that followed a fall from his tractor. He had been hospitalized since Sept. 15 for rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle tissue that releases harmful toxins to the kidneys.
But his role as the owner of Rameses was just one aspect of his life that people remembered him for at the service.
“He and I shared a lot of time baling hay and things like that,” said William “Bob” Hogan, a local farmer and cousin of Rob Hogan.
He said Rob Hogan helped him on his farm and would often crack jokes while the two were at work.
“That may not mean a lot to other people, but it meant a lot to me,” Bob Hogan said.
UNC athletic director Dick Baddour spoke at the service, reminding the crowd that not only was Rob Hogan Rameses’ owner, but he was also a respected farmer and a selfless man with family values.
“Rob exemplified to me what the Carolina family is all about,” Baddour said.
Many people commented on Rob Hogan’s endearing smile.
“The only time Rob wasn’t smiling was when he was kissing a baby or a dog,” Baddour said.
Karen McAdams, a retired agent for the Orange County Cooperative Extension, spoke at the service on behalf of the farming community.
“Rob Hogan knew from the time he was 4 that he wanted to be a farmer,” she said. “He was a great ambassador for agriculture.”
Though he was a “dyed-in-the-wool Carolina fan,” McAdams said Rob Hogan attended N.C. State University to study agriculture.
“Imagine the ribbing he had to take at his dormitory for his family being the owner of Rameses,” she said, eliciting laughs from the crowd.
She also noted that he and his wife, Ann Leonard, were the first farmers in Orange County to sell grass-fed beef.
“Rob was a good and hardworking farmer,” she said, adding that he was well-respected in the farming community.
Rob Hogan’s friend, Brian Curran, also addressed the crowd, recounting how Hogan made him feel like welcome at the Hogans’ Thanksgiving celebrations.
“Rob treated his friends like we were in his family,” Curran said, choking up as he left the podium.
Hogan is survived by his wife, Ann, and three sons, Daniel, James and Henry, who were all weaved into many memories of him at the service. His sons are expected to continue work on the cattle farm and bring Rameses to football games.
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