Death of a Legend: Carlos Fuente Sr.

Carlos Fuente Sr., the patriarch and longtime chairman of Tabacalera A. Fuente y Cia., died on Friday night in Tampa, Florida, after a battle with stomach cancer. He was 81 years old, and was surrounded by his family at the time of his death.

Fuente ran one of the world’s largest handmade cigar companies, presiding over such storied brands as Arturo Fuente and Fuente Fuente OpusX, and making many brands for others, among them all Ashtons and Diamond Crowns. He worked alongside his son, Carlos Fuente Jr., who is president of the company, and his daughter, Cynthia Fuente-Suarez. Both are actively involved in the company today, continuing the family tradition of making fine cigars.

From a humble beginning in Ybor City, Florida, making cigars from his parent’s home, Fuente Sr. built Fuente into an international powerhouse, with its cigars known and revered the world over. His company today makes more than 30 million cigars a year in Santiago, Dominican Republic, all of them by hand.

“I never cared about being the largest cigar manufacturer,” he once told Cigar Aficionado. “I always cared to be the best.” Fuente’s cigars scored numerous high ratings in Cigar Aficionado magazine, including being named Cigar of the Year in 2005. He was inducted into the inaugural class of the Cigar Aficionado Hall of Fame in 1997, and was the last surviving member of that group.

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