Gilberto Oliva, Sr., patriarch of the Oliva Cigar family, died today in Miami. He was 86.
Here's some of an Oliva Cigar press release:
"He began his tobacco odyssey in Cuba. He was born to a second generation tobacco grower. By his late teens Gilberto had expanded from the small family farm to tobacco trading. Like so many others, Gilberto saw his young business seized by the Cuban dictatorship. Gilberto fled to Nicaragua and was among the first pioneers of tobacco cultivation in Nicaragua.
As had happened in his homeland, political unrest forced Gilberto to abandon the country. The years that followed found Gilberto growing tobacco all over the world. From Mexico to Panama to the Philippines, he never relented on his dream to establish a successful tobacco growing operation.
By the early '90s Gilberto was running a cigar factory in Moroceli, Honduras. As the U.S. began to enjoy a premium cigar renaissance, Gilberto's children established, with his guidance, a small cigar factory in Nicaragua. As the company grew, Gilberto returned to Nicaragua to re-establish his tobacco growing operations. Together the cigar company and the tobacco growing company grew. Gilberto's operation became among the largest in Nicaragua and the cigar factory used his tobacco to make critically acclaimed cigars. In 2013 the Oliva Serie V Melanio was recognized by Cigar Snob Magazine as the #1 Cigar of the Year."
Gilberto is survived by his wife, five children and 14 grandchildren. He was in their company at the time of his passing at South Miami Hospital.