EXPIRED: 09/20/09 – “Pepe” Ortega, 79. José Antonio Ortega Bonet started the 1st car air-conditioning biz in Cuba but his real love was food, so he found a way into every Hispanic kitchen in the US with his SazonGoya product line. Cuban cigars did him in.
“Pepe” Ortega, known to his friends as El Gallego,” uprooted his family in 1960, fleeing Cuba’s communist revolution. After a stint in Colombia, settled in Puerto Rico, where he started a successful career in the food business that eventually became Sazón Goya, in partnership with the Unanue family, owners of Goya Foods, the largest Hispanic-owned food business.
“Pepe” was a philanthropist. Among his major beneficiaries are the Centro Mater Foundation, the League Against Cancer, Mercy Hospital and the José Martí scholarships. While Goya’s national sponsorships include the National Council of La Raza, the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the National Hispana Leadership Institute. Goya is also the first Hispanic company to be exhibited at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.