Lynn Mulkey, right, and his daughter Alicia Hindman are pictured with a 10-foot tall wood carving of Brutus Buckeye stomping his foot on a Wolverine. The carving is a memorial to Mulkey’s son, Jeremy, who died unexpectedly earlier this fall. (Journal-Tribune photo by Tim Miller)
A memorial to a former Union County high school football player also stands as a testament to the Ohio State-Michigan gridiron rivalry.
Jeremy Mulkey, who died unexpectedly in September at the age of 37, played two years of high school football at Fairbanks.
He concluded his gridiron career at Dublin Coffman after the family moved to the nearby Franklin County community.
At the time of his death, he lived in Knoxville, Tenn.
A 2001 graduate of Coffman, Mulkey went on to play running back for one year at Ashland University before transferring to Capital University for his final three seasons.
He scored four rushing touchdowns during a game against Wittenberg University. It is a single-game Capital record that still stands.
Mulkey was a huge Ohio State football fan and that love for the Buckeyes has turned into a memorial for him in the backyard of his parents’ (Lynn and Cathy) home at 429 Hickory Drive.
“We had lived in Dublin for a number of years, but we moved back here for a couple of reasons,” said Lynn Mulkey. “For one, we wanted to downsize and the other is that Cathy’s parents live just down the street.”
The backyard of the Mulkey home included a 130-foot black maple tree that had died.
It had become, Mulkey admitted, an eyesore that could be seen from the street.
The tree was cut down to a 10-foot stump and the family wanted to do something with what remained.
“I remember Jeremy and his brother Evan (who resides in California) were both here last winter,” said Mulkey. “We were looking at that stump and wondering what we could do with it.
“We thought about having either an angel with wings or Jesus holding a lamb carved out of it,” said Mulkey.
“It was actually Jeremy’s idea that we had to make it a Brutus Buckeye, stomping on a Wolverine.”
After his son’s death, Mulkey put the idea into action.
“I went on the internet and began googling for wood carvers,” he said.
Mulkey found Matt Missey, a carver who is based out of New London, Ohio.
Missey began the project a couple of weeks ago and completed it in a couple of days, said Alicia Hindman, the late Mulkey’s sister.
“It was all done free-hand,” she said.
Saturday’s annual renewal of the long-time Big Ten football rivalry will be the first one during which the family can also enjoy the memorial.
“Matt used six different-sized chain saws,” said Mulkey, who pointed out all of the detailed work, including what looks like fur on the down-trodden Wolverine.
“He’d work a little bit and then take a step back, sizing up the project,” he said. “He’d then go back to work on the next phase.”
Prior to the carving, Missey examined the stump and took care of a couple of pests that inhabited it. He also recommented that Mulkey seal the carving next spring once the weather becomes warmer.
Missey also painted the colorful carving.
An Ohio State car magnet and the No. 6, which was the younger Mulkey’s football jersey number at Capital University, were also added.
“Matt said it’s the biggest Brutus he’s ever seen as far as a wood carving,” said Mulkey.
“Jeremy loved Ohio State football,” said his father. “This is a great memorial to him.”