By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot
The battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy won’t happen until Oct. 9 in Ann Arbor, but a much more playful version of that battle goes on each week of the just-started college football season in Jackson.
Chuck Richmond Sr. is a University of Michigan graduate, Class of 1963, and an authentic stuffed wolverine is mounted to his office wall. Still, he calls on several Michigan State alumni and a handful of other Spartan fans to help him make a living selling insurance.
The Richmond Agency has provided personal and business insurance policies since 1946. Ever since Fred Richmond opened the business out of his home, a Wolverine fan has been directing the ship.
Chuck Sr. started going to Michigan football games in the mid-1950s. He has contributed $1,000-plus a year to Michigan’s Victor’s Club since graduating, and one of his last memories with his father was watching the Wolverines battle Purdue at the Big House in 1972.
The only thing that holds a more prominent place in his heart than the “good ol’ days of Bo (Schembechler)” is family and camaraderie — even among fans of Spartan green and white.
His four children — Charles Jr., Brian, Kim and Michael — are all employees at Richmond Agency, as are Michigan graduates Dennis Howe and Bill Richmond, his older brother.
He also signs the checks for account executives Carmela Klintworth and Ryan Beal, who went to school in East Lansing.
Richmond is more interested in knowledge and personnel skills than who someone roots for on Saturday afternoon, but he will get a jab in once in a while.
“(Some employees here) have a little Sparty on their desk or something like that,” he said. “I tell them I’ll pray for them.”
Beal said harmless sports debates are a good morale builder between co-workers, and every year the office holds a special UM-MSU potluck lunch the week of the big game. Employees don their favorite team apparel, bring a dish and make a few lighthearted wagers in the spirit of the rivalry.
“Last year, I did get a ‘Go Green’ put up on our electronic message sign out there briefly, so that’s something I don’t know anybody named Richmond would have ordered up there,” Beal said. “It was up there a little while — long enough for me to get a picture of it.”
That picture sits in a frame in his office, along with Spartans and Detroit Lions hats.
Richmond said he fell in love with Michigan football during an age “whenever you’d see the team always very neatly dressed with their blue blazers, and Bo just didn’t put up with any crap,” but he’s never let his fanhood get in the way of business.
“I’ve got friends that are (Michigan) State fans, you know, and one of the largest accounts I ever wrote I got through a Michigan State grad,” he said. “We were buddies, and he was into a lot of different businesses, and I was new out of school — my dad had one policy for him, and I ended up selling them to all his businesses.”
He joked they would always tell each other that the opposing school “had a chance” in the annual rivalry game because it was good professional courtesy, and the two even exchanged tickets once in a while.
He tries not to take his allegiance too seriously, admitting there are even some Ohio State Buckeye fans who “are actually real good people.”
Still, Richmond has traveled to State College, Pa., several times to witness his favorite school clash with Penn State. He can recall Michigan’s 1969 victory over the Buckeyes — where he said “Ohio State was supposedly the greatest football team to ever be assembled on a college campus” — like it happened last fall.
The fact his children spent almost $2,000 on the cherished wolverine hanging on his office wall is all you need to know about his devotion.