José Orlando Padrón, the founder of Padrón Cigars, lived an extraordinary life. Now you can read about it in his autobiography, Memorable Moments in My Life.
The thick tome is brimming with tales from Padrón’s early days as a young boy growing up in Pinar del Río, Cuba, to the journey that eventually led him to Miami, where he founded a cigar company with only one roller in 1964, and beyond. That cigar company has grown into one of the world’s premier makers of fine cigars, a company that has won Cigar Aficionado’s Cigar of the Year award an unprecedented three times.
The book, published only months before Padrón died at the age of 91 on December 5, shows the talents of Padrón as a storyteller. His life story is one of advice, as can be witnessed with this account of an early transgression that drew discipline from his father, Francisco.
He writes: “That day, when my father spanked us with the hoe’s handle, he gave us an early lesson in what responsibility really means. That incident served me very well, because it planted within me the first seed of honesty. As the years have passed, I’ve been able to compare that act of discipline with the actions of a potter molding a piece of clay with strength, but also with tenderness, to create an everlasting piece.”
The book is also filled with photos, including one showing Padrón handing a cigar to Fidel Castro, the former ruler of Cuba. The photo was taken when Padrón was on a trip to Cuba to try to free political prisoners. Its publication drew considerable controversy and protest in Little Havana, where Padrón Cigars is headquartered.
Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Cigar Aficionado magazine, called Padrón’s story one of “perseverance, dedication and hard work, the American dream come to life.”The book, which is available in English or Spanish, is available for sale in the Padrón online store. The book retails for $60, and all proceeds will go to the Padrón Family Foundation’s charitable programs.