Orlando Tobón, an activist and beloved community leader of Colombian immigration in New York, has died, according to Queens state senator Jessica Ramos’s Twitter account and confirmed by other sources.
According to Ramos, Tobon died of cancer.
It is with great sadness that I share news about the death of our community leader Orlando Tobón, who suffered from cancer. The Colombian community of Jackson Heights and all our neighbors mourn this great loss for his family and our entire community. pic.twitter.com/bRuYC75iZu
— Jessica Ramos (@jessicaramos) May 13, 2022
“We have lost a legend,” Tania Mattos Jose wrote in a message on Facebook.
“Orlando Tobón, a Colombian immigrant, was known by many as the “Godfather of Jackson Heights” due to his tireless work for DECADES as a tax accountant, job seeker, fundraiser, and missing persons detective, among other roles for immigrants. newcomers to the neighborhood,” added Mattos Jose.
Tobón also wrote a book -Chronicles of Jackson Heights- and was a co-producer in the successful film ‘Maria full of Grace’ (María Llena Eres de Gracia).
“Colombian people get off the plane and have a phone number, and it’s Orlando,” academic Arturo Ignacio Sánchez once said when describing Tobón, quoted by The New Yorker magazine.
“In Colombia it is typical to have a boss and Orlando is a boss. He sits behind his desk, he is jovial and a figure very much within the social relations characteristic of an immigrant society. The Colombian social order revolves more around personalities than institutions. There is Orlando in almost every immigrant community,” Sánchez added.
The Colombian radio Caracol described in one sentence what Tobón was: “This man was recognized for helping Colombians in New York.”
“Don Orlando”, as he was known in the community, rest in peace.