Merv Pregulman poses for a photo with Jacob Crimmins, left, and John Pregulman, right, at the History Makers Luncheon at the Chattanooga Convention Center Nov 7, 2012, ata benefit for the Chattanooga History Center. Photo by John Rawlston/Times Free Press
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- The former President and CEO of Siskin Steel & Supply Co. and community philanthropist Mervin Pregulman has passed away. He was 90.
Before his time at Siskin, Pregulman was an All-American tackle and center at the University of Michigan in the early 1940's and then went to on a four-year career in the National Football League, playing for the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions, and New York Bulldogs.
In between his college and pro career, Pregulman served in the U.S. Navy during World War II as a gunnery officer on the USS Taluga in the Pacific. He had a close scrape from a kamikaze attack on the ship on April 16, 1945, when ten kamikazes attacked.
Pregulman, who normally would have been in the ship's wheelhouse, had just left five minutes before one of the kamikazes crashed into the ship, shearing the top of the wheelhouse and blowing a hole in the deck.
After his football career ended, Pregulman and his wife, Helen, moved to Chattanooga and went in the furniture business. Helen Pregulman was the granddaughter of Robert Hyman Siskin, the founder of Siskin Steel & Supply. When Mose Siskin died in 1978, Pregulman was named president and chief executive officer.
During his tenure at Siskin, Pregulman played a lead role in building the Siskin Hospital for Physical Rehabilitation, was very involved with the Jewish Community Federation of Greater Chattanooga, served as a member of the University of Chattanooga Foundation's board of trustees, became very involved with The McCallie School, and played an important role in raising money to build Finley Stadium in 1997.
Pregulman was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982, and was also presented the Gerald R. Ford Award from the University of Michigan. The award is the highest honor bestowed on a former University of Michigan athlete and is given for "excellence in scholarship, sport and society."