Debra Ivory cashed out some retirement savings in her mid-50s to purchase an eatery in Oklahoma City, revamping the menu with family recipes. She died of Covid-19 complications.
The scent of pecan-smoked meat will waft out when you opened the door to George’s Happy Hog Bar-B-Q in Oklahoma City, followed by a greeting from the owner, Debra Ivory: “Hey Baby!” “Hey, Sweetie!” “Hey, Darling!”
She was 62 years old.
The restaurant was purchased in 2012 by Ms. Ivory and her son, Stephen Ivory, a former amateur boxer with a limited professional career.
It rose in popularity under the Ivorys, drawing politicians from the nearby State Capitol as well as travelers on Interstate 40, George’s served about 160 clients a day. Ms. Ivory knew what most regulars wanted by heart.
Mr. Ivory, who usually handled the barbecue when his mother worked in front, said. “My mom was the smiling face, the one that everybody loved — always used to make sure everyone was taken care of,”
In a February 2020 review, the Oklahoma Gazette weekly newspaper described the ribs as “perfectly cooked,” the potato salad as “unlike” (with a hint of acidity in pickle juice), and the pork-flecked greens as “a revelation.”
Ms. Ivory is survived by two sisters, Joann Buckner and Tanya Wisby, and a brother, Roscoe Buckner Jr., along with Mrs. Hillmon and Mr. Ivory.
Ms. Ivory died at her home in the town on December 13, at 62. Her son said that coronavirus complications were the cause.