Gemma O'Donnel story:

Cos, a long time respected friend of many ex-Zonians, who is now in his mid-eighties,  continues to enjoy life as a resident of Hogar Nueva Vida, a home for elderly West Indians run by Maryknoll Sister Geri Brake.
     Hogar Nueva Vida is located in the former Far Fan area of Howard Air Force Base.  About a mile or so after the gate, a sign on the left points the way.
     Cos is in good health and enjoys visiting with old friends sitting under a bohio and reminiscing about his interesting and adventuresome life.
     Raised in Jamaica, where Cos tells of having survived the killer hurricane of l928, he returned to Panama as a young man to live in Colon but later came to the Pacific side.  He worked for Jimmy Young and "Doc" Henderson for a time taking care of their hunt dog kennels in Cardenas. 
     But, it was as a successful fisherman that he earned his reputation among Zonians, selling his catch to some of us lucky enough to be his customers.   Cos was a familiar sight  to those coming to work at the La Boca Printing Plant   early in the morning  as he launched his cayuco from the  ferry landing .   He might be off in search of corvina and spot snapper around Palo Seco,  lobster that hung out on the rocks of Farfan Beach or snook that swam at the entrance to Miraflores Locks.  The handcrafted (with the help of a big toe) nets and lobster pots that Cos made became legend.
    When bombed out of his home in Chorrillo during the l998 U.S. invasion of Panama, Cos found that customers became friends.  Jennifer Jones and Brenda Lee of the Crossroads Bible Church saw to it that he was registered as a refugee,  printing plant employees and others replaced loss clothing and other personal objects, and  he came to live with Gemma and Jim O'Donnell in La Boca until U.S. subsidized housing was built a couple  of years later in Chorrillo for the "damnificados."   
     During the years Cos lived in his apartment there, members of his Crossroads Church helped in painting, repairing and keeping up the place until Cos made the decision to live at Hogar Nueva Vida.  Tony Howitt and Jennifer Jones made this  move possible and continue to be his mentors. E-mail can reach Cos through Jennifer at, or

Cos would certainly like to get a letter from you.  Here is his snail mail address:

Residencia Fundacion Nueva Vida
Apartado  0
Balboa (Ancon)
Republica de Panama