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Alfonso Fanjul Sr.

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Lillian Rosa and
Alfonso Fanjul, Sr.

Alfonso Fanjul, Sr. (1909-1980) was born in Havana, Cuba, and graduated from Catholic University in Washington, D.C. His family owned the Czarnikow-Rionda Company in New York and the Cuban Trading Company in Cuba, and with his marriage in 1936 to Lillian Rosa Gomez-Mena (1918-1992), formed an alliance with her family’s business. The combined holdings included ten sugar mills, three alcohol distilleries, and real estate throughout Cuba.

The family’s investments grew steadily until Fidel Castro seized power—and their assets—in 1959; Fanjul and his family sought political asylum in New York. The next year he and his partners purchased 4,000 acres in Pahokee. By barge they brought sections of three small sugar mills from Louisiana and reassembled them into the Osceola mill. In 1961, they began sugar production as the Osceola Farms Company.

Fanjul’s oldest son, Alfonso "Alfy" Fanjul, Jr. (1937- ) helped his father to manage the early development of the company, including building the mill and preparing the soil. They were joined in the late 1960s by Jose "Pepe" Fanjul (1944- ). The youngest sons, Alexander L. Fanjul (1950- ) and Andres B. Fanjul (1958- ), became active in the business in the 1970s and 80s, when additional land was purchased and more mills were put into production. In the 1990s, Fanjul’s four sons became U.S. citizens, and his eldest observed, the next generation to control the company will be “as American as apple pie.”

Alfonso Fanjul, Sr. was director of the Florida Sugar Cane League and the Florida Sugar Marketing and Terminal Association, a founder of Biscayne College, and a trustee of Palm Beach Day School. The Fanjuls’ only daughter, Lian “Lillian” Fanjul Azqueta, focused on community service, and was co-founder and executive director of New Hope Charities in Pahokee. The family and its businesses have also supported Take Stock in Children, Good Samaritan Hospital, St. Mary’s Hospital, United Way, and the University of Miami.

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