B&GC to dedicate field in honor of Zimmerman
by Special to the Banner
Sep 09, 2012 | 633 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Cleveland will hold a field dedication in honor of Neil Zimmerman, a former executive director of the Cleveland Boys Club, at 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 21.

Zimmerman had a rich history of building success through “values learned and character built” while at the Cleveland Boys Club beginning in 1964.

It was said that “two health challenges ended up influencing the lives of thousands of youth for over 30 years.”

As a pitcher in the Minnesota Twins farm system, arm problems forced Zimmerman to look for other work, which finally led to him volunteering at a Boys Club in Orlando, Fla., in the early 1960s.

When the club director experienced health problems, he started coming in earlier and staying later to pick up the slack. Within 30 days, he was offered and accepted the club director’s position in 1961.

He later accepted the position of executive director for a new Boys Club opening in Cleveland, where he served from 1964-1969. Starting out in an old funeral home, before his departure, Cleveland youth had a new clubhouse and athletic field to call their own.

When the opportunity arose to return to the state he had learned to love, he accepted the position as executive director for the Boys Club in Gainesville, Fla. in 1970. While in Gainesville, he facilitated the rebuilding of the S.E. Club and the building of the N.W Club. He retired from Gainesville and the Boys & Girls Clubs movement in 1993.

During his tenure with the clubs nothing was more important to him than the kids in the clubs and his passion to insure they received the best services and opportunities possible.

If you were in his clubs, new experiences were always available. While in Cleveland he was the first to bring t-ball to southeast Tennessee and had youth attend the 1967 World’s Fair in Montreal as well as the first manned moon launch in 1969. While in Gainesville, he again had youth attend a World’s Fair, started the area’s first summer high school basketball and baseball leagues (now a staple around the country), and brought PONY Baseball and Biddy Basketball into the area.

Education was a priority in his clubs. He also was a big believer in the values learned and character built through sports, He was recognized for his award winning homework and tutoring programs.

Outside of his involvement with his local clubs, he was a longtime member of the Boys & Girls Club Professional Association serving as a chapter chair on a number of occasions, served over 15 years on the Boys & Girls Clubs Workers Association's Health Board, was a very active member in Area Councils serving multiple terms as executive secretary and served on and chaired numerous state BGC and area council committees.