Robert Ezelle, Kalamazoo County’s longest-serving nonprofit executive, will

retire at the end of 2016.

The lifelong Kalamazoo resident has served children at the Boys & Girls Clubs for 40 years, more than 30 of those as Executive Director.

The organization’s Board of Directors has formed a search committee to find Ezelle’s replacement.

“Replacement may be the wrong word,” said Board President Brian Mick. “We can only hope to build on the success this incredible gentleman has had impacting lives.”

Board Secretary Kimm Mayer chairs the Search Committee. Information about the position and the search are at The formal search process has begun.

Growing up, Bob spent his days at Kalamazoo Public Schools and his nights at Lake Farm for Boys, which is now Lakeside Academy. Lakeside was was then a home for boys without parental figures or permanent residence.   While at Lake Farm, Bob found strength, understanding and support in Clarence Dooley, the Executive Director.   Affectionately called Pops, Clarence took Bob under his wing and kept him on the straight and narrow. Clarence showed Bob the impact and influence a mentor can have on the life of a young person.

Bob attended Loy Norrix High School, where he excelled in athletics, earning a football scholarship to attend Western Michigan, where he also ran track. His football prowess presented him with the opportunity to play professional football, but a serious neck injury extinguished his NFL plans.

Reflecting on his relationship with Clarence Dooley, Bob looked for an opportunity to get involved in the lives of young people. A year as a 1st grade teacher affirmed that he enjoyed working with children, but he found more value in the mentoring aspect than in the instructional aspect.

That’s when he began his tenure with the Boys & Girls Clubs. He worked aside Executive Director Dick Milne, helping out in the gym, learning different programs and then assuming the Executive Director role when Milne retired.

Bob has made it his mission to instill a sense of worth and value in the each of the Boys & Girls Clubs members that have come through the doors over the past 40 years.   His greatest joy has been watching members develop a never-give-up mentality, and utilize it to bring themselves success in life.  Additionally, Bob is proud of the partnerships the Clubs have created in the community and is grateful for the support his family has given him to dedicate so much of his life to his mission.

Bob met his wife Cynthia in his final year at Western Michigan University. They have two adult children.   His daughter, Heather, lives in Southern California and his son, David, is a Probation Officer in Kalamazoo.