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Palm Coast Thursday, Jul. 11, 2019 3 months ago

Local leaders recall Bob DeVore, central figure in Palm Coast's development

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DeVore died June 26 at the age of 74.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

Bob DeVore was an instrumental part of Palm Coast’s history: The former vice president of ITT Community Development Corporation’s development services department served in a number of key community roles before retiring as president of Lowe Destination Development Southeast.

DeVore died June 26. He was 74.

Bob Cuff, a Palm Coast city councilman and local attorney, first met DeVore when Cuff moved to Palm Coast in 1983 to work for ITT’s community development department, and DeVore was heading the construction division.

“Bob was just a huge part of the business scene here in Flagler County for many years,” Cuff said. “He probably had a dozen titles with ITT over the years, but basically he ran their construction companies and was head of their home construction division for quite a while.”

"Without him, so many things that are here wouldn’t be here. But he wasn’t the type of person to pat himself on the back."

— CHUCK SHAFFER

Cuff recalled some of the work they’d collaborated on: the Sea Colony Project that’s part of the Matanzas Shores Development, Kings Colony, Lake Forest.

“He had his hands in pretty much everything that made Palm Coast Palm Coast for a long, long time,” Cuff said.

Cuff remembered attending the final walk-through of the Sea Ray plant with DeVore.

“He was a hands-on guy,” Cuff said. “He would have been there for something like that. He always wanted to make sure things were done properly.”

He was also direct. “He told you what he thought. He didn’t, in my experience, get involved in corporate politics and the bureaucracy; he just wanted to get the job done, which was build a quality product for the customers.”

DeVore was involved in the community beyond ITT: He was on the board of Florida Hospital Flagler, chaired the Chamber of Commerce, was on the board of Intracoastal Bank, was a Rotarian, served on the Tourist Development Council, and was a member of Enterprise Flagler and of the Palm Coast Elks.

County Commissioner Donald O’Brien first met DeVore in the ’90s, and served with him on the board of the Flagler County Chamber.

“He was one of the early leaders of the Homebuilders Association, and was really instrumental in growing the organization over the years,” O’Brien said. “He was very direct, but cared a lot about the county. You always knew where you stood with him, always. … I always felt like he looked at many of the people that were the next generation after him as — not like a son, but, he looked after us. ... When I was chair (of the chamber), he was a good person to talk to from a standpoint of getting counsel, good advice.”

Tom Gibbs, president of Tom Gibbs Chevrolet, recalled that about DeVore as well.

"He brought a lot of insight and reason and intelligent conversation to any decision-making process," Gibbs said. "He was always willing to give his time to whatever the cause was. ... He had the ability to get along and befriend just about everyone."

“He told you what he thought. He didn’t, in my experience, get involved in corporate politics and the bureaucracy; he just wanted to get the job done, which was build a quality product for the customers.”

— BOB CUFF

When former Palm Coast City Councilman and current Palm Coast city government Chief Development Officer Jason DeLorenzo began working with the Homebuilders Association in 2007, DeVore had moved on from his career with the association, but still came in regularly, DeLorenzo said.

“He’d come by the office, or come to one of our general meetings,” DeLorenzo said. “He basically started the association with a few other people … Just a great man, very personable, and caring.”

Jeanette Loftus, of Palm Coast Real Estate, had worked with DeVore after she moved to Palm Coast to work for Lowe Destination Development in 2004.

“I learned everything I know about Palm Coast from that man,” she said. He also valued community service, she said. “He was one of the reasons for me to move forward in Rotary, because when I worked with him, he embraced my passion in Rotary. He understood what it meant to be a Rotarian, and he gave me time off in my work to do good in the community, because he understood the importance.”

Cuff said DeVore was not the kind of boss who sat in his office and told somebody to go tell somebody else what to do.

“He was out there making sure it got done,” Cuff said. “He was a huge part of ITT and their success. When you talk about building Palm Coast, Bob had as much or more to do with building it as anybody I know.”

Chuck Shaffer, of Palm Coast Real Estate, had known DeVore ever since Shaffer began working for ITT as a laborer in 1982. 

"He was always willing to give his time to whatever the cause was. ... He had the ability to get along and befriend just about everyone."

— TOM GIBBS

DeVore actually “fired” him at ITT — telling him he needed to go into sales and get his real estate license, Shaffer said. He did, and then continued to work with DeVore until 2014. 

“Bob was instrumental in shaping Palm Coast in the early days prior to it being a city, working with the county behind the scenes,” Shaffer said. “Many days, the county commissioners, city commissioners, mayors would come to his office, close the door — and it wasn’t all about what Bob was doing; it was about what the county and city was doing. And he would counsel and communicate. What was important to him was not only what it was at the time, but what it was going to be.”

He wasn't the sort to try to try to seek credit, Shaffer said.

"He never said it, but I’m sure he's proud of what he accomplished over the years," Shaffer said. "Without him, so many things that are here wouldn’t be here. But he wasn’t the type of person to pat himself on the back. ...  It was an honor to know him — to have him as a friend, a mentor and a boss."

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