DAVENPORT, Iowa — Joe Whitty, the founder of Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream has died. He was 82 years old.
A North Dakota native, Whitty started out with a restaurant called The Keg, according to a report by WHBF. Eventually, he came out to the Quad Cities where he started Happy Joe’s Pizza and Ice Cream Parlor in Davenport.
Happy Joe’s has been around for 47 years and has locations across six states, including Missouri. There used to be a store in Kansas City, but now the only store that remains in Missouri is located in St. Louis.
“Joe was a very hard-working man, who was very selfless, who didn’t want to be recognized for it,” Lisa Cervantes, general manager for the Milan, Illinois store, said. “He was just a very humble, hard-working man.”
Happy Joe’s started throwing holiday parties for children with special needs in the 1970s, according to the company’s website. Since then, the parties have grown. Last year, a party at the Taxslayer Center in Moline welcomed more than 1,500 kids.
The store also claims to be the first to pioneer and popularize taco pizza.
“I can’t even imagine how many lives he has touched,” Julie Vanderginst, co-owner of the store, said.
The company tweeted, saying that Whitty died surrounded by loved ones.
It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Happy Joe’s Pizza & Ice Cream Founder, Happy Joe Whitty. Joe passed away on the morning of Oct. 29, 2019 surrounded by his loving family and close friends. pic.twitter.com/mVOxdUlRKi
— Happy Joe's Pizza 🍕 (@HappyJoesPizza) October 29, 2019