(WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — The YMCA of Greater Erie Board of Directors has announced the upcoming retirement of its longtime CEO.

After 35 years, CEO Gerry Vandemerwe will retire from Erie County’s second oldest nonprofit organization. Chairwoman Julie Wilson shared Vandemerwe’s retirement announcement with the Y’s board and employees at its regular board meeting on May 16.

Vandemerwe, a native of Durban, South Africa, was recruited by Gannon University to play soccer and moved to the United States in January of 1984. He is a Gannon University Sports Hall of Fame inductee and still holds the University’s Goal Scoring Points Leader record established in 1988.

He was hired in 1989 as a program director at the Downtown Y, working his way to CEO in June 2003.

“I’ve been very blessed to call Erie my home and to be part of the Erie community for almost 40 years. I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to grow my career within the Erie Y,” Vandemerwe continued, “I am proud of all we’ve accomplished. Our staff team is superior, and I am proud of the fact that a culture of growth and opportunities has been provided to all the staff of the YMCA. I have stood on the shoulders of some very talented leaders in our history.”

    Vandemerwe was awarded the Y-USA Childcare Champion CEO award in 2010.

    Through his employment at the Y, he met his wife Amy at the Eastside Y 30 years ago; their three boys (Tyler, Joe and Kyle) participated in many Y programs throughout their youth.