Greater Burlington Partnership
West Burlington
West Burlington, Iowa

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2018 Community Awards Announced

January 29, 2019

The Greater Burlington Partnership has announced its 2018 Community Awards.  Congratulations to the 2018 selected winners.


The Best Renovation was awarded to the Burlington Police Department.

The Business Person of the Year was awarded to Justin Myers, Myers Construction.

The Project of the Year was awarded to Great River Entertainment.

The Young Professional of the Year was awarded to Hillaurie Fritz-Bonar, Art Center of Burlington.

The Community Impact of the Year was awarded to Carl A. Nelson and Company Charitable Foundation

The Emmy Award is the top honor presented by the chamber of commerce, a division of the Greater Burlington Partnership.  The first Emmy Award was presented in 1965 and awarded only to persons who have by some deed, action, or continued years of community service helped the community and is not normally recognized for his or her actions. The recipient is Jerry Smith.

Many of us know Jerry from Brown’s Shoe Fit.  At age 17, he began with Brown’s at the original store in Shenandoah, Iowa.  Jerry didn’t like the cold so he knew he wanted an inside job, so Brown’s Shoe Fit it was!

At 18 he signed up for the marines, putting cardboard in his shoes for some help with his height and drinking plenty of milkshakes to meet the minimum weight requirement.  It worked!  Jerry was an air traffic controller in China.  During active duty, his sister’s roommate began writing him letters which helped pass the time.

After 27 months of service, Jerry returned home, back at Brown’s Shoe Fit the very next day and he finally met the girl who wrote him all of those letters.  It must have worked, they married in 1947 and 71 years later Jerry and his wife Helen have three sons and five grandchildren.

In 1952, Jerry moved to the Mount Pleasant Brown’s Shoe Fit and in 1957, he began at the store in Burlington.  The first day was a little slow, only selling a pair of shoelaces.  Eventually, things picked up and in need of more space, Jerry purchased and remodeled several locations over the years.

Jerry retired in 1986 and has been active volunteering for numerous organizations.  Brown’s Shoe Fit was a member of the Chamber of Commerce, he served on the F&M Bank & Trust board, supported SCC Blackhawks basketball, volunteered at the homeless shelter and has been an active member of Messiah Lutheran Church for over 60 years.  Jerry has also been involved and continues to donate to the community foundation of Des Moines County, where he received the community caring award.

When Jerry walked into Southeastern Community College’s trio program, it was the beginning of a wonderful relationship. Through the helpfulness of the trio program employees, Jerry decided he wanted to make a contribution to the SCC Foundation.

Since that first day in the trio program, Jerry has become an ambassador for SCC, helping spread the word about programs.  He is an effective fundraiser, selling custom imprinted bricks for the honor gardens, introducing potential friends, and securing contributions. Almost weekly he calls with an idea; he is always thinking.

Jerry may be best known for his many years of service to Hope Haven.  It is near and dear to his heart and he is a friend to staff, clients, volunteers and customers.  For over 35 years Jerry and Helen have funded numerous projects for persons with disabilities and volunteered to help with numerous projects.  His love for Hopefully Yours is evident as he greets customers and helps unload things from their car.  Jerry realized a new lift truck was needed to make the store more successful so he purchased the truck for them.  He also saw a vision for the new location in downtown Burlington and Jerry and Helen donated the lead gift of $250,000. 

Jerry is a prime example of one individual making a huge impact for the community and is one of the smartest, kindest most reliable, generous and innovative people who knows how to fulfill the human spirit.


For More Information:

For more information contact:

Kay Sackville Breuer, 319-208-0041,

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