Devery Youngblood isn’t a stranger to veteran downtown observers. I first met Devery in the mid-1990s when he was hired to oversee the new Automobile Alley Main Street Program that had been formed to help the area recover from the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Devery brought much needed enthusiasm and new ideas to the area, and was part of the conversation that led to the heroic effort by Meg and Chris Salyer to rebuild the old St. Nicholas Hotel after it had sustained major damage from the bombing and then crumbled in in a multi-alarm fire months later.
Devery later moved to the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, where he coined the term “butchering of the steer” to give some understanding as to why the planning and implementation of MAPS was so ugly at the time – and also to encourage residents to keep the faith and wait for the potential steak dinner to follow (a great analogy that proved out right then and still holds up with MAPS 3 today).
Over the years I formed a close friendship with Devery, all the while giving him grief from time to time as I did my job, especially once he took over as the first president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. I saw him struggle with problems with his kids, a failing marriage, both triumphs and failures as a boss at Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., and his sometimes perilous struggles with politics. I won’t give details, but his tenure at Downtown Oklahoma City Inc. ended, led to a job working with Rep. Ernest Istook, and then to where he is now, working with the Chickasaws.
Devery has managed to build on each failure… and his book is an inspiration on how one can not just survive failure, but use it as a means to substantial self improvement.