Labor community remembers former BUD Program Director Russ Signorino


CHANGING LIVES: The late Russ Signorino will be remembered most for the impact he had on other’s lives while he served as program director for the Building Union Diversity (BUD) program. He’s shown here with a group of grateful BUD graduates at a Dec. 9 retirement party held in his honor. – Labor Tribune file photo

Changing lives, providing opportunities and opening doors. That’s how most in the Labor community remember former Building Union Diversity (BUD) Program Director Russ Signorino.

Brother Signorino died on April 21, 2022 at age 70 at Christian Hospital in St. Louis after a long chronic illness. The graduates he lifted up through the BUD program shared their gratitude to him just four months ago at a retirement celebration for him.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for you,” IBEW Local 1 apprentice and graduate of the 21st BUD class Tim Carter told Signorino at the Dec. 9 celebration. “You’ve made a positive impact on my life and the lives of many others.”

Missouri AFL-CIO President Jake Hummel said the first word that comes to mind in describing the former program director is “impact,” and that Signorinio’s impact that was too immense to fully calculate.

“A wonderful measure of a person’s life is the impact they have had on other people’s lives,” Hummel said. “Russ has changed more lives than most people can ever hope for. The world has been an exponentially better place with Russ in it. He is an irreplaceable member of the Labor community and will always be missed.”

St. Louis Labor Council President Pat White agreed and called Signorino a great man with his work with the United Way and later, with the BUD program. White said he will be missed dearly at the Labor Council.

“Guys like him are few and far between,” White said. “To have such a great heart for philanthropy and for molding young men and women whom otherwise would not have the opportunity to strive in a trade is something special.”

The BUD program was created by the St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council in 2014 as a recruitment tool to encourage more minorities and women to get into the union building trades. Signorino took the reigns as program director five years ago.

“Russ was a dedicated servant who always helped the BUD program grow and improve after each graduation,” said St. Louis Building & Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer John Stiffler. “He was always seeing the bigger picture.”

Signorino took over the BUD program after Jim Duane retired. He credited Signorino with taking the program to the next level by securing additional funding from the United Way and other agencies to benefit students.

“I visited him while he was at the hospital, and we joked about when we were going to finally get together to have a beer or dinner,” Duane said. “We had fun, but I could tell he was struggling. He was always thinking about how he could help others rather than help himself.”

The Missouri Works Initiative took over the work of replicating the BUD training and recruiting model statewide last year with the support of the Missouri AFL-CIO. The program, which offers pre-apprentices the opportunity to visit local building trade unions to give them hands-on basic training and a feel for each of the trades, has had a 91 percent graduation rate.

Brother Signorino graduated in 1974 from University of Missouri at Rolla School of Mines with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology. He later graduated in 1985 from St. Louis University with a Master of Art in urban programs. His education led him through a lifetime of achievements throughout his professional careers.

From 1975 until 1994, he worked in research and analysis with the State of Missouri, later going to work with St. Louis County Government for the following three years. He then worked 12 years with United Way on several community programs and initiatives.

He began working as the Executive Director for Gateway EITC Community Coalition for many years, transitioning to the Building Union Diversity (BUD) program for the last five years. During these years, he worked as an adjunct professor in the Political Science Department at University of Missouri at St. Louis.

He also worked with the American Statistical Association throughout the years, served on many boards in Illinois and Missouri and had always strived to bring positive change from within to the people of many communities and backgrounds.

Brother Signorino is survived by his beloved wife of 49 years, Karon E. Signorino, of Glen Carbon;a daughter and son-in-law, Valerie and Luis Marino, of Ft. Myers, Fla; a son, Samuel Signorino, of Glen Carbon; a son-in-law, Cedric L. Love, of Glen Carbon; four grandchildren, Madison Love, Cameron Love, Princeton Marino and Antonio Marino; step-grandchildren, Tyler Love, Jeremy Marino and Midelis Marino; a brother and sister-in-law, John and Mary Signorino, of St. Louis County; a sister, Marilyn Neisz of Madisonville, Ky.; and several nieces, nephews, other extended family and friends.

He was preceded in death by his parents Sam and Katherine (Palumbo) Signorino; a daughter, Gina Marie Signorino-Love; and a grandson, Steven Signorino.

A funeral service was held May 1 at Irwin Chapel in Glen Carbon, Ill. Memorials may be made to a local charity and may be accepted at the funeral home.

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