The second of nine children, Drury learned on the farm “how to do things by instinct.” Working with hogs, chicken and cattle taught him valuable lessons that helped him later in business.
While the family was not wealthy, they were sustained by their strong Catholic faith, Drury explained.
He recalled his mother listening to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen when he was young and how he was taught by Catholic nuns in school.
“We worked every holiday – Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day – but we never did work a Holy Day,” he said.
“We would go to confession every Saturday night to prepare for Sunday morning Mass,” he added.
Drury also discussed the importance of family meals. He remembered how all 11 members of the family would come together to eat and how they would pray before and after every meal.
“I think family life is one thing that we’re eliminating today,” he said, lamenting that family meals are today too often replaced with eating alone in front of a television.
“Our culture has changed so much,” he said.
After graduating from high school, Drury served for two years in the Air Force and then returned home to work with his family.
With his father and brothers, he began plastering, laying ceramic tile and setting marble and structural steel. Eventually, they started working as subcontractors, although his father refused to work for anyone who required a contract, teaching his sons that they must always follow through on their word.
After working at many hotels, “we decided we ought to build one of our own,” Drury said.
His family initially bought one Holiday Inn franchise and five Ramada Inn franchises. The company moved forward, learning from their mistakes, and they eventually decided to start their own hotel.
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As the company grew, Drury remembered his roots. Since no one in the family business had attended college, most of their instincts came from working with animals on the farm, he recalled.
In addition, a strong faith continued to influence the Drurys’ business decisions. Whenever there was a dispute that could not be resolved – sometimes thousands of dollars – they would settle it by offering to give the disputed sum to the Church and allow the other party to take the deduction for it, a practice that he continues today.
When the company bought interstate sites that they later realized they did not need for their hotels, they donated them to the Church, he added.
Drury hotels have never had pornographic television channels in any of their rooms, he said, adding that he has received numerous letters of gratitude from parents who appreciate the ability to bring their children to hotels without worrying about exposing them to inappropriate sexual content.
In his personal life, Drury continues his Church-related philanthropy, a practice that his family maintained even when they were living on the farm with very few material possessions.
He and his wife Shirley participate in local fundraisers and community initiatives, as well as international efforts to help those in need around the world through organizations such as the Papal Foundation.