John Hazen White Sr. successful businessman, philanthropist and political activist, died on March 28, 2001 at the age of 87. He was owner of TACO, Inc. The company has a long and honored reputation in the field of heating, ventilation and air conditioning. A small, single-product company established in 1920, it now employs more than 400 workers and has sales exceeding $100 million.
White was known throughout the business community for his commitment to education. The TACO Learning Center, established in 1992, is one of the most innovative company run educational programs in the country. His commitment to education extended to the Rhode Island community with generous gifts to Brown University, University of Rhode Island, and of course to Johnson & Wales University.
Happy White is an artist, philanthropist, and successful businesswoman. She married John Hazen White Sr. in 1937. As a teenager, she studied art and interned under her artist father. An accomplished watercolor artist, Happy White graduated summa cum laude from Roger Williams University, where she was a student of English and History.
A long supporter of the arts, Happy White donated, built, and endowed the Happy White Art Gallery at St. Andrews School in Barrington. She is currently helping with the acquisition of artwork to be displayed within the new John Hazen White Center. In addition, the Happy White Courtyard at JWU serves as a center for cultural exhibitions and performances.
John Hazen White Jr. is president and CEO of TACO, INC. and a native Rhode Islander, having been born here in 1958. He has been employed at TACO since 1980. In 1991, Mr. White assumed the position of Executive Vice President of the company.
In May 1995, Mr. White was selected as a Distinguished Visiting Professor, and in May 1996 was awarded an honorary doctorate at Johnson & Wales University. He was also a member of the Johnson & Wales Board of Trustees. Mr. White has given numerous lectures at various institutions in the state of Rhode Island regarding international business, building an organization, and TACO's Learning Center.