Simon Chase, the longtime veteran of Hunters & Frankau in the United Kingdom, passed away on Monday after a long illness. He was 74. Chase worked for the British importer of Cuban cigars from 1977 until his retirement in 2009.
"Simon’s knowledge of cigars and his dedication to our industry over the last 40 years has been without equal," Jemma Freeman, the managing director of Hunters & Frankau tells Cigar Aficionado. "His advice and counsel was sought by many of us on countless occasions and it was always given with great care and generosity. It has been an extraordinary privilege to have worked so closely with him at Hunters & Frankau where he has been such an important part of this company since 1977."
Chase was known from his encyclopedic knowledge of the cigar industry, but especially for his mastery of all things related to Cuba, and Cuban tobacco. Chase also became the public face of the annual live auction of custom humidors at the Festival del Habano, where he helped raise millions of dollars for the Cuban public health system. His auctioneering style didn’t just focus on the humidor itself, but was laced with in-depth descriptions of the cigars being sold with the humidor.
"He was a dear friend and colleague," Freeman says, "and will be dearly missed."