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Mayor Lorraine Morton learned April 5 that the Forrest E. Powell Foundation plans to establish an endowed scholarship in her name at North Carolina’s Winston-Salem State University, her alma mater.

Foundation director Hecky Powell stunned Evanston’s 16-year mayor, retiring from office. “This community owes you,” he told her after making the announcement at the eighth annual Palm Sunday Jazz Champagne Brunch, attended by more than 200 Evanstonians at Pete Miller’s Steak House.

Visibly moved, the Mayor said, “I don’t know anything that could be any better than that. That’s where I learned to teach school.” Mayor Morton was a teacher and principal in Evanston’s District 65 before her Evanston political career.

The committee to raise funds for the Lorraine Hairston Morton Endowed Scholarship includes Keith Terry, Hardy Murphy, Sam McKinley, Leon Robinson and Bob Reece.

The foundation also awarded its annual Brendan M. Hedges Memorial Scholarship in Music. The late musician’s parents, Mike and Mariam Hedges, presented this year’s award to Ryan Thielman. He later sat in with the internationally acclaimed Bobby Broom Trio, which Mr. Powell said “put
the jazz in the jazz brunch.”

Earlier in the year, the foundation presented a vocational scholarship to Evanston Township High School graduate Even Thoussaint, now at Oakton Community

The Powell Foundation’s motto, “Working to achieve dreams,” is also reflected in the yearly “work ethic award.” Master carpenter Kevin Kelly of Kelly Woodworks on Wesley was this year’s honoree. He said he was “totally blindsided” by the announcement.

Mr. Kelly said that, as he sat there listening to Mr. Powell describe the 2009 honoree, he found it pretty surprising that someone else had done so many of the same things he had done, such as paying his own way through high school and college, bicycling from Chicago to Michigan, loading trucks and flipping burgers. 

When Mr. Kelly heard the prized possession of the honoree was a urinal installed in his “garage majal,” he said, “Then I knew it had to be me.” He was awarded a dinner for five at Pete Miller’s and, appropriately,
a gift certificate to Lemoi Hardware.

The Powell family established the foundation in 1994 in the memory of Forrest E. Powell, whom his son, Hecky, has proudly described as a domestic worker who instilled the ethic of hard work in each of his nine children. That same ethic appears to have been instilled in the committee that has planned the jazz brunch each year: Patricia Heaston heads the group of Gerri Sizemore, Patricia Vance, John Fuller and Patty Reece.