DETROIT – Tim Pendell, senior director of Community Affairs with the Detroit Lions, still reflects fondly upon his seven years as sports information director at Ferris State University.
Pendell, who is celebrating his 24th year with the National Football League organization, shared his feelings of nostalgia Thursday evening with Ferris friends and alumni who were at Ford Field in Detroit for the Lions’ preseason exhibition contest against Super Bowl champions the New York Giants.
“I learned how to do all of the things that I am doing with the Lions, today, while I was at Ferris,” he said. “I learned so much about media relations, working with people in a community and got some great on-the-job experience while I was at Ferris, and I am grateful for the opportunity I had there. I have so many wonderful memories about my time at Ferris and probably what I remember most are the many people and friends that my wife (Diann) and I met while we were there. I was able to work with a great team and we lived in a great neighborhood.”
Prior to arriving at Ferris, Pendell earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Illinois University in Speech and Dramatic Arts in 1970. He spent four of the next five-plus years in the Air Force with the American Forces Radio and Television Service. It did not take long for Pendellto realize he still had sports in his heart. The man who worked as a radio sportscaster in Macomb, Ill., working WIU and high-school events could not pass up the opportunity to get back into sports when an opportunity presented itself at Ferris.
In 1976, Pendell was hired as the sports information director of what was then known as Ferris State College. During his time at Ferris, which lasted until 1983, Pendell did a little bit of everything, as he was able to learn the sports information business while also continuing to do work related to his specialty – broadcasting.
After his time at Ferris, Pendell jumped to the professional ranks when he accepted a position on the public relations staff for the Michigan Panthers of the United States Football League in 1983. Two years later, Pendell joined the Detroit Lions and now serves as its senior director of Community Affairs. As part of his job, Pendell works to strengthen the bond between the Lions and local communities in the metropolitan Detroit area and he leads the franchise’s non-profit charitable foundation – Detroit Lions Charities. Since 1990, Detroit Lions Charities has raised $4.8 million for charities.
“What we do is work with the community to raise money and then we put it right back into the community as part of the philanthropic wing of the Lions as well as the Ford family (the family that owns the Detroit Lions and runs Ford Motor Company),” said Pendell, who also works with Lions alumni to keep them involved with the organization and local communities.
It is a special year for Pendell, who is celebrating nearly a quarter of a century with the Lions. It also is a special year for him and his wife, Diann, who are celebrating 39 years of marriage this November.
“I’ve been blessed,” he said. “My wife and I are celebrating an anniversary, I’ve been able to do something I love doing with the Lions. Life is good. I can look back, now, and say that so much of what is going well right now started when I was at Ferris.”