Community welcomes experience and wisdom
By LOGAN D. MABE, Times Staff Writer
WESTCHASE -- Fresh from a morning golf outing in Lakeland, Carlos Quiros settles into a chair outside Starbucks in West Park Village and has his first cappuccino of the afternoon.
"I played lousy," Quiros says, laughing. "A 91. And I only three-putted five greens."
Statistically, Quiros had an above-average round, considering the oft-quoted assertion that some 80 percent of all golfers can't even finish under 100. But for the 69-year-old Quiros, who shot a 72 two decades ago, keeping score is just something to do between holes.
"I play for fun," Quiros says. "I'm not a person who has a bad shot and throws a club."
That easy-going demeanor has served Quiros well in his capacity as one of nine directors of the frequently politicized Westchase Community Association.
Before moving to West Park Village from Lake Mary, Quiros had served on the homeowners association of the 152-home subdivision there. After closing on his villa home here in February 2000, Quiros resolved to get involved.
"I have always felt that since this is the biggest investment you have, you should get involved," Quiros says.
The WCA, often the source of rancorous debates and personality clashes, has seen more smooth sailing since Quiros came aboard in January. "It's unfortunate, people trying to eat each other . . . that's what it looks like, but it's not true," Quiros says. "Sometimes we might not see eye to eye, but it's lovely to have a good debate. Through debate, you usually get the best in the end."
Quiros, a native of Puerto Rico, is no stranger to diplomacy. In fact, most of his career was spent navigating the halls of power in his home country.
After studying economics at the University of Puerto Rico, Quiros got a government job in 1957 in the central personnel office. A few years later, he became assistant to the dean of the university's law school.
One day, his boss asked him to have lunch with the mayor of San Juan. "We had lunch," Quiros says. "And I was with him for 16 years."
Quiros rose through the ranks from the mayor's executive assistant to secretary of labor and human resources, secretary of state, and finally deputy mayor.
"I was always at the right place at the right time," Quiros deadpans. "No one else wanted the job."
Quiros, who retired in 1988, says his favorite jobs have been husband and father. He has been married for 46 years to wife Nancy. They have three sons. Carlos is a lawyer in Puerto Rico; Nelson works in the chemistry business in Houston; and Sam is director of project management for a computer company.
Asked to recall the best day of his life, Quiros comes up with three. "Dec. 7, 1952, the day I got back from Korea (where Quiros was a sergeant in the U.S. Army)," he says. "Dec. 22, 1954, when I got married. And Feb. 8, 1956, when my first son was born."
But it was youngest son Sam, who also lives in Westchase, who lured Quiros to the community.
"I love it here," says Quiros, who lives within walking distance of Starbucks. "The best thing here at West Park Village is that you have front porches. You walk and you see people, and you talk to them. I love that."
For fun, Quiros says he likes to travel, read, play dominos with friends and watch television. "My favorite programs are C-SPAN, watching the Senate and the House. And I love JAG."
-- Logan D. Mabe can be reached at 269-5304 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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