A salute to the man behind one of the world’s most respected brands of cigars, Carlos Fuente Sr., whom we sadly lost on August 5, 2016.
Carlos Fuente Sr. – or “Don Carlos” as he was known by his friends and family – was a towering figure in the world of cigars. And like the rich blend of tobaccos one might find in one of his finest hand-rolled puros, his story was one of many layers and complexity.
When Don Carlos was a young boy in Tampa, he contracted polio. His doctors feared that he might never walk again. This crisis became thematic for what he would face throughout his life: being knocked down and searching for the strength to rise again.
In fact, one might observe that every success in Don Carlos’ life seemed to be followed by an even greater challenge. When he anticipated the Cuban embargo, the strained US economy of the 1970s later proved to be an even greater obstacle. When he purchased a tobacco farm in Nicaragua, the civil war drove him out of the country. When he established himself in the Dominican Republic, a hurricane scattered his farm houses like matchsticks.
Fuente would find the resolve to overcome these obstacles and others. His company – along with the help of his son, and current Arturo Fuente CEO, Carlos Fuente Jr. – would go on to create some of the most highly regarded cigars in the world. It is on this final note of family that we should return to add an important detail to his story.
As you might have guessed, young Carlos Fuente Sr. did find the strength to walk again. But he didn’t do it alone. When he contracted polio, Don Carlos’ father, Arturo, would visit him every day. But Carlos was in quarantine, so his father could only see him from his hospital window. So each day, at the same time, Arturo would stand on the street, just below his son’s open hospital window three floors above, shouting words of encouragement to his son, promising that he’d walk again.
No doubt, Don Carlos went on to walk a path that made his father very proud.
Muchisimas gracias, Don Carlos, por todo.
Sean Trapani, Tobacconist