Shortly after midnight this morning, José Orlando Padrón, the founder of the Padrón cigars empire passed away at 91.
Padrón was born on June 10, 1926 in Cuba to a family who was in the tobacco industry. He would stay there until 1961 when he left after the Cuban revolution, like many moving to Miami. In a legendary story, he was given a small hammer and worked as a carpenter saving money until he had enough to start his own cigar company just three years later.
He would become a pioneer of making cigars in Estelí, Nicaragua, moving production to the country in 1970. Unfortunately, because of instability in Nicaragua, his factory would be burned down, and the company’s offices in Miami bombed.
In 1990, after two decades of violence in the country and an eventual embargo against Nicaragua lifted, Padrón returned to Nicaragua and began making cigars. Decades later, Padrón is one of the foremost cigar makers in the world. The company has developed a reputation for its commitment to being a true family run business with the elder Padrón’s children and grandchildren working in various roles at the company, all while making some of the world’s most admired cigars.
Earlier this year, he published his memoir Memorable Moments in My Life with sales benefiting the Padrón Family Foundation.
The company published the following on its Instagram account:
It is with deep sorrow that we announce the passing of our father, Padrón Family patriarch and founder of Padrón Cigars, José Orlando Padrón (1926-2017). José Orlando had a favorite quote by Cuban poet José Marti, “Men are divided into two groups: those who love and create and those who hate and destroy.” José Orlando Padrón was a man who loved and created. He built a loving family. He built an extended family of employees, in Nicaragua and the United States, whom he loved and respected. After immigrating from Cuba, he founded a small family business in Miami in 1964. He built it into an international company, creating one of the most respected cigar brands in the world. He built a legacy.
He never forgot his simple roots in the countryside of Cuba and as a poor refugee in a new country. He was grateful to those who helped him in times of need and through his toughest challenges. It is why he remained humble and committed to giving back. He turned his gratitude into the Padrón Family Foundation, so he could help others the same way he was helped.
To quote one of Martí’s famous aphorisms, “There are three things that each person should do during his lifetime: plant a tree, have a child, and write a book.” Having lived an accomplished and loving life, José Orlando achieved all three.
He loved his family. He loved his native Cuba and his adopted countries of Nicaragua and the United States. He loved God. He loved life. He loved a good cigar and sharing it with friends.
He leaves behind his wife Florinda, his children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and great-grandchildren as well as his extended family of trusted employees and friends whom he loved like family. He spent years preparing us for this moment and we will carry on the traditions and lessons he passed on. We will strive every day to live like he did, carry on his name and make him proud.
Rest In Peace, Papi.
Please see updates on this page regarding the memorial service time and location.
The company has announced plans for a memorial and burial:
Please join us in a celebration of José O. Padrón’s life this Friday, December 8th, 6 – 10 pm at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables, FL 33134.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, December 9th at 2:00 pm at St. Patrick Catholic Church, 3716 Garden Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33140.
The burial will immediately follow at Caballero Rivero Woodlawn Park North Cemetery located at3260 SW 8th St., Miami, FL 33135.
Update (Dec. 6, 2017) — Details for the memorial service added.
(Image via Padrón)