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Eduardo León Dies

Eduardo León, the chairman of Empresas León Jimenes, the Dominican Republic's largest company, died Sunday in Minnesota of a heart attack. He was 86 years old.

Born on October 13, 1919, León previously served as president of the company, which makes León Jimenes and La Aurora cigars, brews Presidente beer and makes Marlboro cigarettes. He was also the former CEO of Banco León, which operates banks in the Dominican Republic.

Although formally retired, said Jose Blanco, La Aurora's director of sales, León remained active within the business.

"He was a visionary man," said Blanco. "He took the company from cigars and in the early '60s started it into cigarettes. Then, in the early '80s, he started the brewery."

In addition to his role as a businessman, León was also a diplomat, acting for a time as ambassador for the Dominican Republic to the United States and to England. He also was a great philanthropist, said Blanco, supporting schools and the arts.

He was oldest brother to Fernando León, who ran the company with his brothers before retiring, and uncle to Guillermo León, the president of León Jimenes S.A.

The funeral took place yesterday in the Dominican Republic.