Theodore Roosevelt Youngblood, Sr., African-American headwaiter at the Driskill and Stephen F. Austin hotels in Austin and civic leader, was born on January 8, 1903, in Limestone County, Texas, to James Edward and Willie Lou (Stephens) Youngblood. He had seven siblings.
Youngblood moved to Austin in 1919 to attend Samuel Huston Normal School. He continued his education there and received a bachelor of arts degree in history in 1927 from Samuel Huston College (now Huston-Tillotson University). As a first generation college-educated African American, his employment opportunities were limited to jobs such as porter at the Capitol and waiter at Austin hotels. He served as headwaiter at the Driskill Hotel and the Stephen F. Austin Hotel from the 1930s until his retirement in 1968. At those hotels, he put together and served many receptions, dinner parties, and meetings for prominent White politicians, businessmen, educators, and cattlemen for the Austin area and the state of Texas. These included President Lyndon B. Johnson, senators John Tower and Lloyd Bentsen, Congressman Jake Pickle, and governors Dolph Briscoe, John Connally, Miriam “Ma” Ferguson and James “Pa” Ferguson, Dan Moody, Allan Shivers, and Pat Neff.
Youngblood and his first wife, Jewel Deams Youngblood (who passed away in 1947), and two sons, Theodore, Jr., and Alvin, lived at 1306 Cotton Street near San Bernard Street. The area was known as Sugar Hill, the home of prominent Black Austin residents in the 1920s through the 1940s.
Youngblood’s civic and community work included serving as Negro Chamber of Commerce chairman from 1935 to 1940 and as Juneteenth Commission chair. For Sam Huston College he served as College Club president, alumni association president, and YMCA College president. He also served as a behind-the-scenes fundraiser when the school was in dire need of money. After his retirement in 1968, he remained active and served as treasurer for the Salina Senior Activity Center and trustee steward for Wesley United Methodist Church. In 1976 he was instrumental in establishing and organizing the Youngblood family reunions, which were still being held in the 2010s.
Youngblood and his first wife welcomed and entertained many well-known African Americans such as NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall to their home during the times of segregation. Mrs. Youngblood, a Tillotson college graduate with a degree in home economics, also ran Jewel's Tea Room, where she prepared and served hot lunches to the Tillotson College faculty in their home.
Following the death of his first wife, Youngblood married Latatlion G. Richard Youngblood, also a graduate of Tillotson College. Youngblood died on February 9, 1993, at the age of ninety. More than 500 people attended his funeral at Wesley United Methodist Church. He was buried at the Cook-Walden Memorial Hill Cemetery in Austin. He left a legacy of public service, good business sense, staunch support for education, love of family, and a sense of dignity and pride in being an African American. In 2015 Youngblood was selected as one of the city of Austin’s honorees to be included in the city’s African American Portraits Project of the African American Cultural & Heritage Facility.
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“City announces 2015 African American Portraits Project honorees,” African American Cultural & Heritage Facility, City of Austin (https://www.austintexas.gov/news/city-announces-2015-african-american-portraits-project-honorees), accessed December 15, 2015. “Theodore Roosevelt Youngblood,” Find A Grave Memorial (http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=42673027), accessed December 15, 2015. Arlene Youngblood Papers (AR.2003.003) Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas. Theodore Roosevelt (Theo) Youngblood, Interview by Jean Gilbert, October 25, 1973, Austin and Travis County Oral History Collection, Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Austin, Texas.
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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Arlene L. Youngblood,
“Youngblood, Theodore Roosevelt, Sr.,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 25, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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