Mervin Pregulman (October 10, 1922 – November 29, 2012) was an All-American football player, businessman, and philanthropist. He played football 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.
Pregulman was a first-round draft pick (seventh overall pick) of the Green Bay Packers in the 1944 NFL Draft. He played four years of professional football with the Packers (1946), Detroit Lions (1947–48), and New York Bulldogs (1949).
He later became the president of Siskin Steel & Supply Co.in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He was also active in philanthropy and community service, including service as president of the Siskin Foundation and a member of the University of Chattanooga Foundation's board of trustees. In 2004, he became the 13th recipient of the University of Michigan's Gerald R. Ford Award. He was also inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982.
|Born:||October 10, 1922|
Lansing, Michigan, U.S.
|Died:||November 29, 2012 (aged 90)|
|NFL draft||1944 / Round: 1 / Pick 7|
|1946||Green Bay Packers|
|1949||New York Bulldogs|
Pregulman was born and raised in Lansing, Michigan. His father, George Pregulman, had little formal education, but he became a millionaire in business in Lansing. Pregulman went to Lansing Central High School, not far from the campus of Michigan State University (then known as Michigan State College of Agriculture and Applied Science). In his senior year of high school, Pregulman was "captain of the all-state football team."
Despite growing up in the shadow of Michigan State, Pregulman chose to attend the University of Michigan. At Michigan, he played for Coach Fritz Crisler from 1941–43. He was a versatile lineman who "moved from guard to tackle to center as needed, and who played each position with skill, confidence and winning effectiveness."
In 1941, Pregulman was a 19-year-old sophomore starting at right guard. On October 18, 1941, he intercepted a pass thrown by College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Otto Graham and ran it back 65 yards (59 m) for the game-winning touchdown in a 14–7 victory over Northwestern. That year, Pregulman was named a Grantland Rice All-American honorable mention and was given the team's Meyer Morton Award as the most improved player during spring drills. The 1941 Michigan team finished the year with a record of 6–1–1, outscored its opponents 147–41, and was ranked No. 5 in the final AP poll.
In 1942, the Michigan team was 7–3 and finished the season ranked No. 7 in the AP poll. Michigan played the Notre Dame Fighting Irish for the first time in 25 years and won, 32–20. Pregulman was named to the All Big Ten team. The 1942 Wolverines' offensive line that included Pregulman, Julius Franks (U-M's first African-American All-American), Al Wistert, Robert Kolesar, Bill Pritula and Elmer Madar, was known as the "Seven Oak Posts."
In 1943, the Michigan football team was 8–1, outscored its opponents, 302–73, and was co-champion of the Big Ten Conference, finishing the season ranked No. 3 in the final AP poll. The only loss was to Notre Dame, 35–12. The Wolverines did not allow any other opponent to score more than seven points that season and defeated Minnesota, 49–6, and Ohio State 45–7. For the 1943 season, Pregulman was named Grantland Rice first team All-American at guard, UP All-American second team at tackle, and AP All-American third team at tackle.
His biography at the University of Michigan Athletic History site says: "Originally a center he was shifted to guard, then back to center where his accurate passes were a vital factor in Michigan's famed single-winged attack. Smart and aggressive, he never turned in a performance below the high standard he set for himself."
In addition to his father, Pregulman said he had three heroes in his life: Michigan Coach Fritz Crisler, Michigan's line coach (and future Michigan State head coach) Biggie Munn, and Axle Martin, a university professor.
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.
In 1944, Pregulman was inducted into the United States Navy where he served as a gunnery officer on the USS Taluga in the Pacific Theater of Operations. The Taluga left Norfolk, Virginia in October 1944. On December 10, 1944, the ship reached Ulithi, an atoll in the Caroline Islands of the western Pacific Ocean, which served as her base of operations until the end of World War II. For the next 11 months, Pregulman and the Taluga crew were in and out of Ulithi picking up oil and other supplies there and carrying them to units of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. During that time, they supported carrier strikes and landings on Luzon in the Philippine Islands, landings on Okinawa, strikes on Formosa, and the final sweep of the Japanese home islands in the summer of 1945. Between April and July 1945, Pregulman and the Taluga crew spent much of their time in and around the anchorage at Kerama Retto, just west of the southern end of Okinawa. At dawn on April 16, 1945, ten kamikazes attacked their formation. One of the kamikazes dove at Taluga, strafed her deck, and then made for her superstructure. The attacker careened off the ship's bridge and hit the wheelhouse. However, only 12 men were injured, and the oiler was soon back in action. Pregulman normally would have been in the wheelhouse, but he went on deck just before the attack. He recalled: "If he had been five minutes later, I would have been in the wheelhouse and I certainly wouldn't be here." He recalled that the plane sheared off the top of the wheelhouse, and blew a hole in the deck, but no American soldiers were killed.
Just 11 days after the cessation of hostilities, Taluga entered Tokyo Bay on August 26, 1945, and took up duty as station oiler until early October. On November 18, 1945, the ship left Japan to support ships engaged in the occupation of China and Korea. She visited Tsingtao and Jinsen before returning to Yokosuka, Japan, on December 6, 1945. On January 31, 1946, the Taluga began its return to the United States, arriving in San Pedro, California, on February 16.
Pregulman 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. A Wisconsin sports writer touted the signing: "Curly Lambeau came up with a dandy for the Green Bay Packers when he landed Merv Pregulman. … At Michigan he was a star at three different positions -- tackle, guard and center. I've a hunch that he would do just as well at end." Pregulman appeared in nine games for a Packers' team that had a 6–5 record in 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. Pregulman 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. He also had a punt return for nine yards (8 m) in 1947.
In June 1950, Pregulman announced that he was retiring from football. He said he had received a contract to play for the Philadelphia Eagles, but had decided to remain in Lansing, Michigan, where he was in the furniture business.
After his football career ended, Pregulman initially went into the furniture business.
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, a Lithuanian immigrant, as a small scrap metal business. His two sons, Mose and Garrison Siskin expanded the company into one of Chattanooga's leading businesses.
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. Next, Siskin built a 100,000-square-foot (9,300 m2) steel service center in Nashville in 1989 to cut transportation costs and accommodate Nissan Motors and Saturn Corporation automobile plants in the area.
When Pregulman retired, his son John Pregulman took over as the company's president.
In 1996, Siskin Steel was sold to Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. for $71 million in cash. Under an agreement with Reliance Steel, the company remained under local management with Merv Pregulman continuing to serve as vice-chairman, and his son John Pregulman continuing as president. In 2002, John Pregulman left Siskin.
Pregulman was also 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 rehabilitation centers in the United States. Even after he retired, 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, a boy's preparatory school near his home in the Missionary Ridge section of Chattanooga. 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. Pregulmanparticularly active in community service efforts directed at improving health care and has received awards from the Tennessee Medical Association and the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Medical Society.
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. After his wife spoke, Pregulman told the attendees: "Helen (his wife) comes by charity work very honestly. When you talk about philanthropy and community there's no need to write them down on paper, the words come from the heart."
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 graduation. Pregulman said: "Helen and I are committed to Jewish communal service. We see it as essential to the health and vitality of the Jewish communities throughout the world. The students … will play an integral role in administration and related activities at synagogues and Jewish Community Centers in the future. We hope to encourage more leadership from our young adults through this scholarship program."
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 was also a vocal opponent of efforts in 2005 to impose historic district zoning restrictions on the Missionary Ridge area of Chattanooga, where Pregulman lives. The ridge was the site of a Civil War battle and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Pregulman argued that historic zoning would limit the rights of property owners: "We live with enough restrictions. We don't need them."
The 1941 All-Big Ten Conference football team consists of American football players selected to the All-Big Ten Conference teams selected by the Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP) for the 1941 Big Ten Conference football season.1941 Michigan Wolverines football team
The 1941 Michigan Wolverines football team represented the University of Michigan in the 1941 Big Ten Conference football season. Under fourth-year head coach Fritz Crisler, Michigan compiled a record of 6–1–1 (3–1–1 Big Ten), outscored opponents 147 to 41 and was ranked #5 in the final AP Poll. The team played three ranked opponents, defeating #5 Northwestern (14–7), playing to a tie with #14 Ohio State (20–20), and losing by a 7–0 score to the 1941 Minnesota team that won the 1941 national championship. With a strong, veteran line, the Wolverines also shut out four of their eight opponents: Pittsburgh (40–0); Columbia (28–0); Illinois (20–0); and Iowa (6–0).Fullback Bob Westfall was selected as a consensus first-team player on both the 1941 College Football All-America Team and the All-Big Ten Conference team. Halfback Tom Kuzma was the team's leading scorer with 48 points, and tackle Reuben Kelto received the team's Most Valuable Player award. Tackle Al Wistert received second-team All-America honors, and center Robert Ingalls was selected as a first-team All-Big Ten honoree.1942 All-Big Ten Conference football team
The 1942 All-Big Ten Conference football team consists of American football players selected to the All-Big Ten Conference teams selected by the Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP) for the 1942 Big Ten Conference football season. Dave Schreiner was the only unanimous pick with 18 points (representing all nine first-team picks); Julius Franks and Dick Wildung followed with 17 points each.1942 Michigan Wolverines football team
The 1942 Michigan Wolverines football team represented the University of Michigan in the 1942 Big Ten Conference football season. The 1942 team compiled a record of 7–3 and was ranked No. 9 in the final Associated Press poll. The team's line that included Albert Wistert, Merv Pregulman, Julius Franks (U-M's first African-American All-American), Elmer Madar, Robert Kolesar, Bill Pritula and Philip Sharpe and was known as the "Seven Oak Posts."1943 All-Big Nine Conference football team
The 1943 All-Big Nine Conference football team consists of American football players selected to the All-Big Nine Conference teams selected by the Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP) for the 1943 Big Ten Conference football season.1943 Big Ten Conference football season
The 1943 Big Ten Conference football season was the 48th season of college football played by the member schools of the Big Ten Conference (also known as the Western Conference) and was a part of the 1943 college football season.
The 1943 Purdue Boilermakers football team compiled a perfect 9–0 record, tied for the Big Ten championship, led the conference in scoring defense (6.1 points per game), and were ranked No. 5 in the final AP Poll. Guard Alex Agase was a consensus first-team pick on the 1943 College Football All-America Team. Another guard, Dick Barwegen, received the team's most valuable player award.
Michigan, under head coach Fritz Crisler, compiled an 8–1, tied with Purdue for the conference championship, led the conference in scoring offense (33.6 points per game), and was ranked No. 3 in the final AP Poll. The team's sole loss was to consensus national champion Notre Dame. Bill Daley was a consensus first-team All-American and finished seventh in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. Bob Wiese received the team's most valuable player award.
Northwestern, under head coach Pappy Waldorf, compiled a 6–2 record and was ranked No. 9 in the final AP Poll. Quarterback Otto Graham received the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy as the most valuable player in the Big Ten. Northwestern's two losses were to No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 3 Michigan.1943 College Football All-America Team
The 1943 College Football All-America team is composed of college football players who were selected as All-Americans by various organizations and writers that chose College Football All-America Teams in 1943. The eight selectors recognized by the NCAA as "official" for the 1943 season are (1) Collier's Weekly, as selected by Grantland Rice, (2) the Associated Press, (3) the United Press, (4) the All-America Board, (5) Football News, (6) the International News Service (INS), (7) Look magazine, and (8) the Sporting News.1943 Michigan Wolverines football team
The 1943 Michigan Wolverines football team represented the University of Michigan in the 1943 Big Ten Conference football season. Fritz Crisler, in his sixth year as head coach, led the team to an 8–1 record and a tie with Purdue for the Western Conference championship. The team was ranked #3 in the final AP Poll behind Notre Dame and the Iowa Pre-Flight School. Michigan outscored its opponents 302 to 73 in nine games. The team's total of 302 points (33.5 points per game) was the highest point total for a Michigan team since the 1917 team scored 304 points in 10 games (30.4 points per game). Defensively, the team held every opponent, except Notre Dame, to seven or fewer points.
After opening the season with three consecutive victories, the Wolverines lost to Notre Dame by a 35–12 score in game matching teams ranked #1 and #2 in the AP Poll. In the fifth game of the season, the team responded with a 49-6 victory over a Minnesota team ranked #11 by the AP. The game marked the worst defeat to that time in the history of the Minnesota football program and Michigan's first victory over the Golden Gophers since 1932. The Wolverines finished the season with a 45–7 victory over Ohio State—the largest margin of victory in the Michigan–Ohio State football rivalry since Michigan's 86–0 victory in 1902.
At the end of the season, several Michigan players received individual honors. Despite missing the last three games of the season due to military service, fullback Bill Daley finished seventh in the voting for the Heisman Trophy and was selected as consensus All-American. Daley led the team in both rushing and scoring, totaling 817 rushing yards and 59 points in six games. Daley gained 216 of his rushing yards in Michigan's 21–7 over Northwestern.
Bob Wiese, who played at quarterback and fullback, was selected by his teammates as the most valuable player on the 1943 team and finished in a tie for second in voting for the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy presented to the most valuable player in the Western Conference. Right tackle Merv Pregulman was also selected as a first-team All-American by Collier's Weekly and Stars & Stripes. center Fred Negus was also selected as a first-team All-Western Conference player.1944 Green Bay Packers season
The 1944 Green Bay Packers season was their 26th season overall and their 24th season in the National Football League. The club posted an 8–2 record under coach Curly Lambeau, earning them a first-place finish in the Western Conference. The Packers ended the season beating the New York Giants 14–7 in the NFL Championship Game, their sixth league title. Don Hutson led the NFL in touchdowns for a record-setting eighth time in his career.1947 Detroit Lions season
The 1947 Detroit Lions season was their 18th in the league. The team improved on their previous season's output of 1–10, winning three games. They failed to qualify for the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season.1948 Philadelphia Eagles season
The 1948 Philadelphia Eagles season was the franchise's 16th season in the National Football League (NFL). The Eagles repeated as Eastern Division champions and returned to the NFL Championship game, this time defeating the Chicago Cardinals to win their first NFL title.Bill Pritula
William "Bill" Pritula (March 10, 1922 – January 24, 2006) was an American football player. He played college football as the starting right tackle for Fritz Crisler's Michigan Wolverines football teams in 1942, 1946, and 1947. He was one of Michigan's "Seven Oak Posts" line in 1942, made famous for their durability and two-way playing, and was also a key blocker for the 1947 offensive unit known as the "Mad Magicians."
Pritula was born in 1922 at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but moved with his parents to Detroit as a child. His father, Ivan Prytula, immigrated from Austria in 1911. Pritula attended Chadsey High School in Detroit. He enrolled at the University of Michigan and played at the right tackle position for the Michigan Wolverines football team from 1941–1942 and 1946–1947. After serving as a backup center in 1941, Pritula started all ten games at right tackle for the 1942 team. With the roster depleted due to the war, Pritula was one of several 60-minute men on the 1942 team who played all ten games with little or no substitution. Michigan's 1942 line, which included Pritula, Julius Franks, Elmer Madar, Merv Pregulman, Albert Wistert, and Robert Kolesar, became known as the "Seven Oak Posts.Pritula missed three years at Michigan while serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps engineers in the Philippines during World War II. He returned to Michigan in 1946 and resumed his position as the Wolverines starting right tackle. As a senior, he started nine of ten games at right tackle for the undefeated 1947 Michigan Wolverines football team. His final game for Michigan was the 1948 Rose Bowl in which Michigan defeated the USC Trojans, 49-0. During his three years as a starter at Michigan, the team compiled a record of 23-5-1 and were ranked No. 9, No. 6 and No. 1 in the AP Polls. He was selected by the Associated Press as a second-team All-Big Nine Conference player in 1947. He was also invited to play in the 1948 Chicago College All-Star Game against the Chicago Cardinals. Pritula was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and the Tau Beta Pi national engineering society at Michigan.In June 1948, Pritula was hired as the line coach at Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. After retiring from football, Pritula worked for many years as an engineer for General Motors. He received a master of arts degree from Michigan in 1967. He died in January 2006.Elmer Madar
Elmer F. Madar (November 28, 1920 – February 9, 1972) was an All American football player at the University of Michigan in 1942 and 1946.List of Green Bay Packers players
The following is a list of notable past or present players of the Green Bay Packers professional American football team.List of Michigan Wolverines in the NFL draft
This is a list of Michigan Wolverines football players in the NFL Draft.Merv (disambiguation)
Merv often refers to the Central Asian city: Merv.
It may also refer to the historical Merv (East Syrian Ecclesiastical Province)Mervin (given name)
Mervin is a masculine given name.Robert Derleth
Robert J. "Bob" Derleth (June 9, 1922 – December 16, 2012) was an American football lineman. He played college football for the University of Michigan Wolverines football teams in 1942, 1943, 1945 and 1946 — missing the 1944 season due to military service. He also played professional football for the Detroit Lions in 1947.Robert Kolesar
Robert C. "Bob" Kolesar (April 5, 1921 – January 13, 2004) was an American football player and medical doctor. He played at the guard position for the University of Michigan from 1940 to 1942 and for the Cleveland Browns in 1946 after a stint in the U.S. Army during World War II. While playing at Michigan, he was part of a line that was known as the "Seven Oak Posts".
Kolesar retired from professional football after one season to pursue a medical career, and later established a practice in Saginaw, Michigan. He died in 2004.