Former Bacardi chairman Cutillas dies at 81

Manuel Jorge Cutillas
Manuel Jorge Cutillas
Chuck Fadely / The Miiami Herald

Manuel Jorge Cutillas Covani, a former chairman of Bacardi Limited and a descendant of that company’s founder, died of a heart attack Saturday in Panama. He was 81.

Cutillas was born in 1932 at the Clínica de Los Angeles in Santiago de Cuba. He was a great-great grandson of Facundo Bacardí Massó, founder of the emblematic producer of Cuban rum.

“The Bacardi family and employees are deeply saddened by the passing of Manuel Jorge, one of the icons of our company,” said Facundo L. Bacardí, the company’s current chairman. “Through his drive and leadership, he helped shape the global company we have today. His pursuit of growth took Bacardi from being solely a rum company to a group with a diverse portfolio of premium brands, establishing us as a global player.”

Cutillas studied at La Salle School in Santiago de Cuba, at Tufts University in Boston and at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. After graduating in 1955, he married Rosa María DuBois, with whom he had a son, Jorge.

“He entered the Bacardi company that same year,” said his cousin, Alicia Aixalá.

In 1960, after Fidel Castro’s revolution, the family moved to Nassau. Cutillas held various positions in the company in Nassau, Brazil and other Latin American countries.

He had a 45-year career with the company and during his latest active years was the chairman of the principal company, Bacardi Limited.

“He worked all his life with Bacardi, beginning in Cuba”, said his friend, Patricio de Torres, who also worked in the company for many years.

Although his primary residence was in the Bahamas, Cutillas and his family often visited Miami, where they kept an apartment.

Besides his widow and son, he is survived by his brother Eduardo and several nephews and cousins.

Cutillas has been cremated and his remains arrived in Miami on Sunday. A mass in his memory will be held at the Epiphany Catholic Church at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Instead of flowers, the family has asked that donations be sent to La Liga Contra el Cáncer or St. Jude Hospital.

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