67 Days: A Look Back At All-American and Philanthropist Mervin Pregulman

With 67 days until the 2016 Michigan Football season, we look back at the life and success of All-American, Mervin Pregulman. The Lansing native was very successful in football, business, and philanthropy, but also served our country in the Navy. Below are some of his highlights and achievements:

College

  • He played as a tackle and center for the University of Michigan Wolverines from 1941 to 1943 and was selected as a first-team All-American in 1943.
  • He was inducted into the United States Navy and served in the Pacific Theater during World War II, narrowly surviving a kamikaze attack on his ship in 1945.
  • In 1969, Pregulman was selected for the Michigan Wolverines’ all-time football team.
  • He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982 and the University of Michigan Hall of Honor in 1988.
  • He was also part of the second group inducted into the Michigan Jewish Sports Hall of Fame in 1986.
  • In 2005, Pregulman was selected as one of the 100 greatest Michigan football players of all time by the “Motown Sports Revival,” ranking 61st on the all-time team.

NFL

  • He was a first-round draft pick (seventh overall pick) of the Green Bay Packers in the 1944 NFL Draft.
  • He was selected by the Green Bay Packers in the first round (seventh choice overall) of the 1944 NFL Draft, but he was called into military service in the Navy.
  • After completing his military service, Pregulman finally signed with the Packers in June 1946.
  • During the spring of 1947, Pregulman joined the coaching staff of the Michigan State Spartans football team when Biggie Munn took over as head coach. Munn had been Pregulman’s position coach at Michigan.
  • In June 1947, Pregulman was traded by the Packers to the Detroit Lions in exchange for his former teammate at Michigan, Paul White.
  • He played in all 24 games for the Lions during the 1947 and 1948 seasons. The Lions went 3–9 in 1947 and 2–10 in 1948. Pregulman had three interceptions and recovered three opponent fumbles for the Lions. He also handled the Lions’ kicking duties in 1948, kicking two field goals in six attempts, and completing 26 extra points in 27 attempts.

After Football

  • In 1957, Pregulman moved with his wife Helen to her hometown, Chattanooga, Tennessee. His wife was the granddaughter of Robert Hyman Siskin, the founder of Siskin Steel & Supply Co.The company was started in 1900 by Siskin.
  • In 1978, when Mose Siskin died, Pregulman was named president and chief executive officer.
  • In 1980, Siskin was generating about $50 million in annual revenues. Under Pregulman’s management over the next 15 years the company’s annual revenues tripled to $151 million, as the company expanded its operations throughout the Southeast.
  • In 1985, Siskin bought Birmingham, Alabama-based Steel Supply Company, which subsequently took on the Siskin name.
  • In 1996, Siskin Steel was sold to Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. for $71 million in cash.

Philanthropy Work

  • Pregulman was very active in philanthropy and community service. For many years, he was the chairman of the Siskin Memorial Foundation and played a lead role in building the Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation, one of the leading rehabiliation centers in the United States.
  • Even retiring, he remained active as the Foundation’s vice-chairman.
  • He was also president of the Jewish Community Federation of Chattanooga, a member of the University of Chattanooga Foundation’s board of trustees, and a leader at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and The McCallie School.
  • He also played an important role in raising money to build Finley Stadium, opened in 1997, and has served on the board of directors for the Finley Stadium/Davenport Field Corporation.
  • In 1997, Pregulman and his wife were given Chattanooga’s top philanthropist honor at the 10th Annual National Philanthropy Day Luncheon and Award presentation, for their varied efforts since moving to Chattanooga in 1957.
  • In 1998, Pregulman and his wife Helen (also a U-M graduate) endowed a scholarship at the University of Michigan. The Mervin and Helen S. Pregulman Endowed Scholarship Fund is awarded based on students’ leadership ability, financial need, and commitment to work in the Jewish community after
  • In 2004, Pregulman was the 13th person to receive the Gerald R. Ford Award. The award is the highest honor bestowed on a former University of Michigan athlete and is given for “excellence in scholarship, sport and society.”

Pregulman passed away on November 29, 2012. He was a true champion for serving our country and spending time doing great philanthropy work after his playing career. His combined achievements in his life sets him apart from most players in the countdown.

Go Blue!

David Noe