scholarship

Connell F. Smith

1914-1988

Connell F. Smith

Connell F. Smith served as Business Manager/Secretary Treasurer of Laborers’ Local 773 from 1942 to 1976. It was his vision that guides Local 773 to this day in organizing, political action, and service to the membership. 

Connell F. Smith-Homer Brown Scholarship Award

The Connell F. Smith-Homer Brown Scholarship Award was established in 1986 by the Executive Board of Local 773 and LiUNA Vice President Edward M. Smith to honor the First Business Manager of Local 773 Connell F. Smith who served as Business Manager/Secretary Treasurer of Laborers’ Local 773 from 1942 to 1976. It was his vision that guides Local 773 to this day in organizing, political action and service to the membership. He provided a strong foundation for one of the most respected Local Unions in the entire International Union. His philosophy of “Who can I help today” guided him as the longest serving business manager in Local 773 History.

Homer Brown was a member of Local 773 during the great depression. He worked as a Laborer for 55 cents an hour while raising five children. During his career, Brown was a construction steward as well as served the Executive board as the Sergeant at Arms, Executive Board Member, and later served as the Vice President of Laborers’ Local 773. Despite his hardship, Brown and his wife Mary managed their life around the future of their five children making every effort to make certain they obtained their education and lead productive, successful lives. Homer Brown Jr. joined the United States Air force while James E. Brown and Gertrude Brown Johnston obtained their degrees and are employed by the US Government. James is a guard and Gertrude is a Human Resource Consultant. Iantha Brown McKinley and Dorothy May Brown Lee became Teachers, and John Wesley Brown became Principal of Harry E. David Jr. High School in Cleveland, Ohio. 

“Whatsoever you desire when you pray, believe you will receive it and you will have it. Assure yourself of success today. God is opening doors that will surprise you with new opportunities.” 

Gertrude K. Johnson Brown - Daughter of Homer Brown

The scholarship was created to provide substantial grants for the education of young men and women of exceptional promise. The program seeks to encourage and enable highly motivated students to pursue opportunities available to them. Since 1986 the program has awarded more than 600 college students the chance to build a better future. 

Our scholarship is available for students to reapply for up to 4 years. The recipients of the scholarships must meet the following requirements including

• Be the son/daughter, grandson/granddaughter, stepson/stepdaughter or the member themselves.

• GPA requirement of 2.6

• Write a 2 page essay on Labor Issues

• Above all, the student must be a person who gives back to the community, an important characteristic of members, affiliates and colleagues of Local 773. 

Each scholar will receive $750 for Junior College, $1,500 for 4 year University and $2,000 for students attending Southern Illinois University-Carbondale.  There are no geographic restrictions on the use of the scholarship, and recipients are allowed to supplement the award with other scholarships, and grants. . Applications are available online beginning January 31st - March 31st each year. 

The Mary Jewel Smith Scholar Award

The Mary Jewel Smith Scholar Award was established in 2020 in memory of one of Local 773's most respected and retired members in the Local union's history. The award is granted to graduating college students who meet all the requirements outlined in the CFS-HB scholarship, and is furthering their education beyond a 4 year degree to a Master's Degree Program. 

Mary Jewel Smith was known for her smile and positive attitude, and she always had a kind word for everyone. Mary Jewel learned the importance of hard work early on while farming with her family in Miller City Missouri. She graduated Diehlstadt High School at the age of 16, and was the only one of her mother’s children to graduate from high school. She later worked at Brown Shoe Company in Charleston, Missouri, and then at the munitions plant in Cairo, Illinois during World War II.

Mary Jewel was a proud member of Laborers’ Local 773. She strongly believed that working people enjoyed good wages and working conditions because of unions.

Always a believer in hard work, Mary Jewel returned to work after her husband Connell F. Smith passed away in 1988. She worked until she was 87 for the Southern Illinois Laborers' Health & Welfare Fund in Cairo and very much enjoyed working with her colleagues and was a firm believer in arriving early and staying until the job was done.