Editor’s Note: On Saturday, the Phoenix cigar community lost one of its dearest friends as Tom Pupillo, who was known for his work as an independent sales rep and occasional fill-in behind the counter of several cigar stores lost his battle with cancer. He was 60 years old.
Tom was one of my early friends in the cigar world after I moved to Phoenix in 2009; while he was known for his work as a rep for several brands including Tatuaje, Illusione, Perdomo and several others, he was loved for his classic cigar shop personality. He could hold court in a cigar lounge with the best of them and would bust a guy’s chops for rooting for someone other than the Yankees or whatever other reason he deemed appropriate. He knew so many people in the area by name and so many more knew him by his name; he was always quick to flash a smile, offer a handshake or a hug and ask you how you were doing.
I can’t help be struck by a bit of irony in Tom’s passing, as I heard about the news via Twitter. To this day, I distinctly remember a conversation that came up between us about how he had to open a Facebook account just so he could keep up with all the news that a certain manufacturer was releasing, and how the industry had changed so dramatically because of this new thing called “social media.” He was an old-school guy who traveled in a big white Cadillac with a binder full of price lists, product info sheets and samples who suddenly found customers and retailers asking him questions about some new test blend they just saw a photo of online, all while he learned how to submit orders via this thing called an iPad.
To borrow the words of another local rep, he was a friend, mentor and sounding board to so many people in the Phoenix area, and the thought that we won’t be seeing that big white Caddy with the license plate CGARS4U pull into the parking lot of the shop we’re sitting at and our faces light up in the knowledge that we’re in for a dose of Tom’s wit and wisdom is one that is hard to accept.
All of us at halfwheel join the cigar community of Phoenix and beyond in mourning the loss of Tom Pupillo. We hope you’ll take a moment to look around at all the people who are part of your local cigar community; next time you see them, let them know that they are appreciated. Take a moment to enjoy a cigar with them and really be in the moment. Life is a short, precious thing, and each of us is fortunate in that we get to share that time with each other. — Patrick Lagreid.
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