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George Smith Coronado Ambassador
Anyone looking to uncover the history of Coronado will know the first family of Coronado, the Eisnemanns. First, Roberto Eisenmann Sr. also known as ‘The Five Star’, bought the land and through passion and determination made a dream come true. The manifestation of this dream to build a community was left in the capable and brilliant hands of Roberto Jr. (aka Bobby) and his dear friend, George Smith.
Life takes its own flight in tandem with circumstance and individual will. George Smith came into this world as Jorge Alcedo Alvarado in La Mesa within Santiago in the province of Veragus. Tragedy is no stranger, and it did visit Jorge’s family when his mother died when he was just six years old. Beatriz Alvarado de Alcedo’s sister and American brother in law eventually took Jorge under their wing, brought him to the States, adopted him and gave him an education. Now as an American, his name became George Smith and Frank Smith’s son. The family moved on to Lima, Peru for three years and back again to the States.
The return to home and family tugged at George, as Panama does that siren’s song calling to you to return. Missing his brothers and other family members inspired him as well to do more than just visit his homeland. With only $20 in his pocket, George arrived at Tocumen airport. Eventually he ended up logging with his aunt in the city very near the headquarters of the Presidency of the Republic. Now his uncle, Sebastian made a simple suggestion to go to the El Panama Hotel as they were interviewing young men with a command of the English language at the American Bazaar. George had an amicable presence about him and a way of carrying himself with dignity that set him apart as much as his command of the languages. He was hired, and overjoyed at his good fortune.
They sold a lot of the Panajack jackets, among other things, which was owned by Sr. Bob Eisenmann. Frequently, Sr. Eisenmann would come and just observe young George, noticing his fine manners and selling skills. Like many mentors that could appear in ones life, Sr. Eisenmann began to teach George how to sell not just one new shirt, but a whole new wardrobe. Expanding one’s skills under the wing of a master is a gift. Eisenmann’s nickname was ‘The Five Stars’, a rather commanding name, began calling George ‘Smithy’ and the bond began.
In a very short time, George became the assistant manager and on to managing. Roberto Eisenmann was also making grand strides in his life as well as the President of the Board of Directors of the El Panama Hotel and so much more. Ernesto de la Guardia, the President of the Republic of Panama, bestowed the Vasco Nunez de Balboa Medal in May of 1957 to Roberto. Now many national figures were friends, including George and the President and the President’s son, Ernesto III.
Bob Eisenmann began to sell some of his beloved land in Coronado and encouraged young George to join in the efforts. The misfortune of ill health befell Bob, and all gathered around this giant of a man before his untimely death. He left his son Roberto Jr. with his dreams of developing his Coronado. He began asking for George’s help, but he was quite reluctant and resistant to the idea. But, like ‘The Five Stars’, his heir had a way of convincing George that in the end became as irresistible as Bobby’s smile.
It was basically just land, no roads or infrastructure. Their meeting place to work was actually under the mango tree just off the highway where it still stands in Rey’s supermarket lot. “Sometimes we even signed documents, or I showed the clients my maps there …, this is why I say, that the shadow of that tree was my first office.”
During the week, George worked in the stores in the city, but the weekends were for Coronado. Diego Pardo, the engineer, was beginning to build the roads and tractors cleared the land. The next big step from selling lots, or finquitas (little farms), was the construction of Punta Prieta Towers located at the point of Coronado. These were snatched up very, very quickly. It is said that George knows every inch of this land, who bought what, when and even why. One of the first beach high-rises is Punta Prieta Towers, designed by Ignacio Mallol and Eric Wolfschoon, that stands high upon the point of Coronado. The view from here is simply fantastic, as you have the grandeur of Punta Chame mountain to the east and all the way up the coast past San Carlos to the west.
A little further back from the beach is the stately high-rise Alcazar condominiums that have views of the golf course, the Pacific and all the surrounding mountains. George had his hand in everything, the building of the country club, the Jewish Temple, the roads, and knows it all like the back of his hand.
Known as the most fantastic salesman, even a super salesman, this move to help manifest Sr. Eisenmann’s dream proved to be the best choice of his life. George said: “It is like selling a dream. And it’s true, because many people have realized their dream after buying a property in Coronado. This was don Bob’s dream, and I think that his sons and grandsons have contributed to realize his dream with their own effort.”
Bear in mind, George began working for Roberto Eisenmann and family in 1956, this is a very long and loyal relationship. One day, Roberto Jr. asked George to get a priest to bless a new street in Coronado and to please attend as well since the priest was his friend.
Bobby began to speak about defects and virtues:
Paths cross so many times in life, sometimes we become aware of their importance and follow the way, and sometimes we don’t even know the importance of the encounter. For both the Eisenmann’s and George Smith, the ‘chance’ meeting, the following of one’s intuition, the investment in time and the deep faith truly became the foundation for what we know of Coronado today. This piece of heaven on the Pacific beaches is grateful to you George for all that you give of your heart and soul to this precious place.
Copyright© 2011, Pan Am Publishing S.A., Republic of Panama