John Hazen White Sr., who built Taco Inc. into a well-known manufacturer of hydronic pumps and related equipment, died on March 28. He was 87.

At the time of his death, White was chairman of Taco, originally known as the Thermal Appliance Equipment Co., which was started by his father, Elwood, in 1920.

Currently, Taco employs more than 500 people. The Taco Learning Center, which provides onsite education ranging from accounting to the arts free to all its employees, is just one of White's innovations. On the manufacturing side, White pioneered the development of what's become known as the wet rotor circulator.

In addition to building Taco, White also led a campaign to educate his fellow citizens on their civic responsibilities. His famous "Red Alert" campaign took local politicians and other public figures to task for questionable dealings and spending. The campaign made him, at one time, the largest single advertiser in the Providence Journal newspaper.

White was also a philanthropist and art lover, and contributed millions of dollars to various universities and institutions, including Brown University; Johnson & Wales University; and the Rhode Island Philharmonic.

White is succeeded in the family business by his son, John Hazen White Jr., Taco's president and CEO. In addition to his son, White is survived by his wife of 64 years; four daughters; 13 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.