Harry J. Shapira, executive vice president of family-owned Heaven Hill Distilleries Inc., died Sunday in Louisville at age 66 after a 10-year battle with cancer.
Mr. Shapira was the driving force behind Heaven Hill's Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown and the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, which will open next month on Main Street in Louisville.
Mr. Shapira helped create and design the tourist attractions to celebrate his family's bourbon legacy, which now extends to all segments of the industry. Mr. Shapira could often be seen signing bottles and talking to visitors at the Bourbon Heritage Center.
Heaven Hill, which was founded after Prohibition by Mr. Shapira's father David and four uncles, is now the sixth-largest spirits supplier in the U.S. and the second-largest holder of aging bourbon, according to the company.
As president of the Shapira Foundation, he was a significant philanthropist in Louisville, contributing with his wife, Judy, to the Jewish Community of Louisville, Gilda's Club of Louisville, the Speed Art Museum and the Fund for the Arts, among others. He also was a board member of the regional cancer center corporation at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville.
Mr. Shapira was a past trustee of Bellarmine University, past president of Keneseth Israel Congregation, and former president of the Eliahu Academy.
Funeral will be Tuesday at Keneseth Israel in Louisville, with visitation at 12:30 p.m. and funeral at 2 p.m.
Donation suggested to Keneseth Israel Congregation, the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, and Gilda's Club of Louisville.