Mr. Joseph A. Unanue, former president of Goya Foods, passed away Wednesday evening at his home in Alpine, N.J., surrounded by his wife Carmen Ana and his family. He was 88 years old.
“We lost a great man and a dear member of our family, who will be missed greatly,” says Bob Unanue, president of Goya Foods. “Uncle Joe always believed in the importance of family, which helped us to lay down the foundation of what Goya stands for. He was an iconic businessman not only within the food industry but among the Hispanic community and most of all to La Gran Familia Goya.”
Mr. Unanue was a brilliant leader and administrator; loved and respected by all for his ambition, tenacity and dedication to not only his vision of expanding Goya but to keeping within the traditions of his family and culture, an obituary says.
Mr. Unanue began working at Goya in 1952 and served as president of Goya Foods Inc. from 1976-2004. Under his and his brother Frank’s leadership, the company grew from a regional food company to a global brand with 15 manufacturing and distribution facilities worldwide.
Along with his wife, Mr. Unanue dedicated much of his life to philanthropic causes through the C&J Unanue Foundation, including the founding of the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute for Latin American Studies at Seton Hall University, El Museo del Barrio and the Archdiocese of Newark. In addition, he was presented the Key to the City of Boston and, in 1991 Hispanic Magazine honored Mr. Unanue with the National Hispanic Achievement Award. In 1986, he and Frank served as co-grand marshals of the Puerto Rican Day Parade in celebration of Goya’s 50th anniversary. Mr. Unanue also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Catholic University of America. Mr. Unanue, who was very proud of being in the U.S. military, served in the U.S. Army during World War II and received a Bronze Star for his heroic service and conduct during the Battle of the Bulge.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Unanue is survived by three daughters, Mari, Maribel and Mimi; son, Andy; and 16 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Founded in 1936, Goya Foods is America’s largest Hispanic-owned food company and has established itself as a leader in Latin American food and condiments. Goya manufactures, packages and distributes more than 2,200 food products from the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America.