Carlos Fuente Sr. – An Inspiration, A Dream, A Legacy

The world lost one of its inspirations this August, with the sad passing of cigar legend Carlos Fuente Sr., owner and longtime Chairman of the Arturo Fuente companies. Carlos Sr.’s light faded last Friday in Tampa, Florida, while surrounded by his loving family, succumbing to an unfortunate illness at 81. He follows his late wife Anna Louisa Lopez who passed away last December. Taking over his father Arturo’s legacy, Fuente headed for the past six decades, alongside his son -and our dear friend- Carlos Fuente Jr., president of the company, and his daughter Cynthia Fuente-Suarez, one of the world’s largest handmade cigar companies that offered cigar aficionados icons such as Don Carlos, Fuente Fuente OpusX and the Hemingway, cigars with incredible stories and unforgettable memories.

Carlos Sr and JR
Carlos Sr. and Carlos “Carlito” Jr.

“We don’t hurry things, we do things the way they are supposed to be done.”

Indeed, nothing the Fuente family achieved was hurried. As the Fuentes say, “We will never rush the hands of time.” But time wasn’t always on their side and circumstances were sometimes tough. A catastrophic fire ravaged the company’s building in 1924, ceasing production for 22 years.  At age 11, Carlos Sr. contracted polio and was told he’d never walk again. But with time -several years in fact- and a lot of will power, he regained the ability to walk normally. His brother Arturo and he rolled cigars at their father’s company and learned the ropes of the business. He later dropped out of high school before graduating, and got married at 18. With the cigar industry struggling hard during the 40s and 50s, Carlos took a job as a baker to make ends meet, while also helping out at Fuente. In 1958 Carlos Fuente Sr. bought the business from his father for $1, and ended up growing it from a $1,161 operation producing only a few thousand cigars a year, to one making more than 30 million cigars per year! The Fuentes never let success overshadow their humility or forget those less fortunate. They launched a charity initiative, have built a school for the needy, improve children’s lives through various activities and are constantly helping the community.

Chateau Fuente
The Fuente estate in Santo Domingo

Carlos Fuente Jr., President of Arturo Fuente Cigar Company, recently said in a heartfelt message: “My father always said, ‘I never cared about being the largest cigar manufacturer, I only cared about being the best.’ Well Dad, you were. We will miss you dearly and will remember and continue to honor you each day.” Indeed, Carlos Sr. will be missed and remembered fondly all around the world.

Carlos Fuente Sr.

Carlos Fuente Sr. is survived by his sons Carlito and Richard, daughter Cynthia Fuente-Suarez, brother Arturo Fuente Jr.;, and loving grandchildren and great-grandchildren.