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Joseph A. Unanue, the former chief executive of Goya Foods and son of the founder of what has become the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States, died June 12. Known affectionately as “Don Joe,” he was 88 years old and lived in Alpine, N.J.
Unanue helped build a company that currently has 1,200 employees and annual sales approaching $1 billion, and is still expanding: Secaucus, N.J.-based Goya recently broke ground on a new $127 million warehouse and headquarters in Jersey City.
Unanue’s father, Prudencio, started Goya in 1936 after emigrating from Spain. Prudencio died in 1976, leaving ownership to his four sons.
A decorated combat veteran of World War II, Unanue joined the company in 1952, became its president in 1977 and then rose to the positions of CEO and chairman of the board. After 27 years leading the company, he was succeeded in February 2004 by family members.
Funeral services are scheduled to take place at Barrett Funeral Home in Tenafly, N.J.