Generoso Eiroa, who spent 70 years working in the tobacco business in just about every major tobacco-producing country, from Cuba to the Dominican Republic, died on Friday. He was 86 years old. He was the uncle of cigarmaker Christian Eiroa, and the brother of tobacco grower Julio Eiroa.
In a heartfelt note, Christian remembered how his uncle cared for him when he was only three years old, living in Honduras and badly burned. “My mother tells me the story of how he carried me to the hospital in his arms,” he wrote. “I spent months at his house in Tegucigalpa recovering and every day he would come in to my room and make me a paper airplane.” Generoso went on to care for Christian and his family later, when Julio Eiroa, Generoso’s brother and Christian’s father, was partially paralyzed in a plane crash in 1977.
Generoso Eiroa began working around tobacco when he was 16, running the La Victoria del Corojo tobacco farm in Cuba. “Being the eldest of the family, it was up to him to take care of my grandmother, Victoria and his two little brothers, Julio and Francisco,” said Christian Eiroa. Generoso would go to Tampa, Florida in 1960, and then to Nicaragua in 1962, working on tobacco farms. In 1964 he moved to Jamastran, Honduras, joining his younger brother, Julio on a tobacco farm.
“They lived in a shack with three lightbulbs and a generator which would get shut down at 8 p.m. every night so they could save every penny. My father and uncle would work together until the late ’70s. Tio Gene was extremely organized and was known to keep a ledger in pencil, even in his later years.”
In 1980, Generoso moved to Santiago, Dominican Republic where we went to work with INETAB, a division of Universal Leaf, running the company’s dark, air-cured tobacco. He retired from INETAB in 2000.
Cigar tobacco runs strong in the Eiroa family. Julio and Christian made Camacho and other cigars together, and Christian now owns C.L.E. Cigar Co., making such cigar brands as C.L.E. Chele, Prieto and 25th Anniversary, all of which feature Honduran Corojo-seed tobacco. Julio and Christian still grow tobacco in the Jamastran Valley of Honduras.
“He never left the tobacco business,” said Christian of his uncle. “Even as I visited him in the hospital, he was coordinating the last containers of filler I had purchased from him.”
Generoso Eiroa is survived by his wife, Bertica; by his children Genito, Mary, Vicky and Jorge; his brothers Julio and Francisco; eight grandchildren and one great grandchild.