Enrique Manuel Arias

December 31, 1944 ~ August 11, 2023 (age 78) 78 Years Old


Enrique Manuel Arias de Para, 78, an expert in Latin Americaneconomic policy, who played a key role in rebuilding his native country of Panama following the U.S. invasion of that country more than 30 years ago, died at his beloved home, in Alachua, Florida, on Aug. 11 following complications from pneumonia.


Mr. Arias began his professional life in banking in the early 1970s in Chicago and rose to become chief executive officer for Latin America and the Caribbean at Barclays Bank in Miami, retiring in 2003.


After earning several degrees, including a master’s of business administration at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1973, he worked for a time in management at what was formerly Continental Bank of Illinois. In the late 1970s, he opened an office for the bank in Bogota, Columbia, and by the early 1980s had moved to Continental Bank in Miami. 


He later joined Barclays Bank in Miami and rose to be the bank’s regional chief executive officer for Latin America. He played key leadership roles in expanding the bank’s operations in the region and making it into the leading correspondent bank for Latin America and the Caribbean.


In 1989, when the United States invaded Panama and installed that country’s democratically elected government, Mr. Arias later played important roles in promoting aid to and investment in Panama. For this service, the Panamanian government awarded Mr. Arias the Order of Vasco Nuñez de Balboa, which is among the country’s highest honors.


In the early 1990s, Mr. Arias helped pioneer western banking in the former Soviet Union, bringing successful techniques from Latin American banking to the challenges there.


While his work led him to travel throughout the world, Mr. Arias was happiest when he was at home with his family and close friends. He and his wife, Catherine, raised three children, who spent much of their childhoods in Miami. During that time,he enjoyed captaining his sailboat, Rare Opportunity, around the waters of Miami and the Keys.


After his retirement, he and Catherine split their time between Miami and Alachua, Florida, eventually moving to Alachua, where Mr. Arias enjoyed several hobbies, including cooking and working with wood. He loved driving the country roads in his pickup truck and cultivating chestnuts on his farm, El Castañar.


It was in Alachua that Mr. Arias expanded his woodworking craft, specializing in Shaker-style furniture built largely without the aid of nails, and publishing images of his work in Fine Woodworking magazine. He also built altar furniture for Saint Madeleine’s Church in High Springs, Florida. Each year he loved harvesting the chestnuts on his farm and enjoyed sending them to family and friends.


Throughout his adult life, Mr. Arias was an art collector and music fan who particularly enjoyed Latin music and classical guitar. He was a talented cook, who enjoyed preparing Paellaand liked to host barbeque dinners. Central to his life was his Catholic faith. Mr. Arias was an active member of St. Madeline’s Church.


Mr. Arias was born in Panama City, Panama, on December 31, 1944, to Tomas D. Arias de Revuelo and Leticia de Para de Arias. He was part of a large and loving family that included siblings Tomas, Alfredo, Albertina, Raul, and Cuquita. Hestudied at the Colegio de La Salle in Panama City. 


Mr. Arias went to college in the United States, where he studied at Saint Joseph’s University in Marion Station, Pennsylvania.Following graduation from St. Joseph’s in 1966, he began graduate school at Temple University, earning master’s degrees in economics and mathematics. 


In 1968, Mr. Arias married Catherine Sommer, whom he met while he was an undergraduate at St. Joseph’s. The couple moved to Panama, where he became a tenured professor at the University of Panama in Panama City. Mr. Arias became expert in financial policy of his native country, having written amaster’s thesis on the topic.


He returned to the United States a few years later to study finance at the Wharton School in Philadelphia.


Mr. Arias is survived by his wife of 55 years; his children,Desmond (Julia Busch), Karolina (Peter Koch) and Andrés(Deidra Garcia); his grandchildren, Cameron, Catherine, Sebastian, Gabriela, and Andrés Marcus. He also is survived by siblings Albertina, Raúl, and Cuquita and many cousins, nieces,and nephews. He was preceded in death by his brothers Tomas and Alfredo. 


A celebration of his life will be held Tuesday, August 29, 2023,at 10:30 am at St. Madeleine’s Church. There will be a visitation starting at 10:00 am prior to the service. A reception will be held at the church hall following the mass. Memorial donations canbe made to St. Madeleine’s Catholic Church.


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August 29, 2023

10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
St Madeleine Catholic Church
17155 NW US Hwy 441, High Springs, FL
High Springs, FL 32643

Funeral Mass
August 29, 2023

11:00 AM
St Madeleine Catholic Church
17155 NW US Hwy 441, High Springs, FL
High Springs, FL 32643


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