Biography of H. John Heinz III

"In the performance of his duties, both as a public servant and as a philanthropist, he was not merely tireless, he was joyfully ferocious, himself the embodiment of radiant living." -- Teresa Heinz

[Portrait Photo of Senator John Heinz, 1986]


Henry John Heinz III, the only child of philanthropist and industrialist H.J. Heinz II and Joan Diehl (Heinz) McCauley, was born on October 23, 1938 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. After his parents divorced in 1942, Heinz lived with his mother and stepfather, U.S. Naval Aviator Captain C.C. "Monty" McCauley. Heinz grew up in San Francisco, but spent many summers in Pittsburgh with his father who was chairman of the H.J. Heinz Company, the food processing corporation founded by the senator's great-grandfather in 1869.

[John and Teresa Heinz]

After his graduation in 1956 from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, Heinz enrolled at Yale University. He completed his bachelor's degree in 1960 in "History, the Arts and Letters," a special honors major. Following graduation (and accompanied at times by an Australian friend) he piloted a single engine plane on a trip through Africa and the Middle East, carrying only road maps, a seven-crystal radio and a compass. Heinz spent the latter half of 1960 as a floor salesman for International Harvester trucks in Sydney, Australia. He entered Harvard Business School in 1961, and the following year worked for the summer with the Union Bank of Switzerland in Geneva. He received his Master's degree in Business Administration from Harvard in 1963. There he met his future wife, Teresa Simoes Ferreira, who was in Geneva attending graduate school

After enlisting in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Heinz served on active duty from June to December 1963 at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. For the remainder of his enlistment, he served with the 911th Troop Carrier Group based at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport. As an Airman Third Class, he received a U.S. Department of Defense citation for suggestions to improve the management of parts and supplies, saving the Air Force $400,000 annually. With the rank of staff sergeant, he received an honorable discharge from the Air Force Reserves in 1969.

[John Heinz with Family, 1976]

From March to December 1964, Heinz had his first taste of politics and public service when he went to Washington, D.C. as a special assistant to Senator Hugh Scott (R-PA) and as assistant campaign manager in Senator Scott's successful reelection bid. Returning to Pittsburgh, he was employed in the financial and marketing divisions of the H.J. Heinz Company from 1965 to 1970. He married Teresa in 1966, and they subsequently had three sons: Henry John IV, Andre, and Christopher. Turning from business to the academic world, Heinz taught at the Graduate School of Industrial Administration at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh during the 1970-1971 academic year.

In the years he spent in living and working in Pittsburgh, and later as a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, Heinz was an active participant in community and charitable endeavors, ranging from the arts to community development in the urban areas of western Pennsylvania. As chairman of the Heinz Charitable and Family Trust and trustee of the Howard and Vira Heinz Endowment, he continued the Heinz family tradition of combining entrepreneurial skill with community activism that saw his father build the city's cultural district and crown it with Heinz Hall.

[Senators Ski Cup, 1987]

Heinz helped to create a series of community-based initiatives to revitalize the physical and social fabric of inner city neighborhoods in the Pittsburgh area. In addition to becoming a founding investor and director of the Pittsburgh Penguins Hockey Club, he served on the boards of the Urban League of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Council for the Arts, the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Playhouse Theatre, the Sarah Heinz House, the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (University of Pittsburgh), and the Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh). Outside the Commonwealth, Heinz served on the boards at Harvard Business School, the American Institute for Public Service (Washington, D.C.), the World Affairs Council, the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Connecticut), and the U.S. Ski Team Educational Foundation (Park City, Utah).

Heinz's interest in the arts was demonstrated as early as his college years. He and Teresa built a fine collection of late 18th and 19th century American paintings and 17th century Northern European still-life paintings. Their important collection of Dutch, Flemish and other still-lifes was exhibited at the National Gallery of Art and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts in 1989.

Political Life

Since Heinz believed that "almost all the real vital decisions affecting our lives [were] being made in the public sector," he became active in local Republican politics throughout the 1960's. In addition to working for Senator Scott, Heinz was also active in the campaigns of Governor William Scranton for the Republican Presidential nomination (1964), Judge Maurice B. Cohill for Juvenile Court (1965), Richard L. Thornburgh for Congress (14th Congressional District, 1966), Robert Friend for County Controller (1967), and John Tabor for Mayor (1969).

He became a member of the Executive Committee of the Republican Finance Committee of Allegheny County from 1965 to 1970, serving on the County Republican Research and Issues Committee. Under his chairmanship, the Issues Development group prepared a variety of research papers to provide all Republican candidates with background in such areas as transportation, highway facilities, county government, modernization, budget and fiscal policy, and air pollution. Heinz chaired Pennsylvania's Republican platform committee hearings in 1968, won election as a delegate at the Republican National Convention in the same year (and again in 1972, 1976 and 1980), and chaired Pennsylvania's Republican State Platform Committee in 1970.

United States House of Representatives


Upon the sudden death in April 1971 of Robert J. Corbett, the Republican Representative from Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District, Heinz decided to pursue the unexpired term. In order to secure the Republican Party's nomination, Heinz focused his strategy on gaining broad base support from the general public and from the local committee people. By securing the endorsement of Corbett's widow and Donald Dunbar, Corbett's son-in-law and potential challenger, as well as well-known Republicans Bob Pierce, Bob Friend, William Hunt, and Elsie Hillman, Heinz easily secured the nomination over former Republican County Chairman George Pott and Ernest U. Buckman, a longtime influence in the Republican organization of Allegheny County.

[John Heinz, Campaign, 1971]

In the November 1971 special election, Heinz squared off against Democrat John E. Connelly, a wealthy businessman and owner of the Gateway Clipper, who emphasized his life-long residency in the district. Heinz hoped to maintain his solid Republican support while gaining influence in Democratic strongholds. Accordingly, campaign headquarters were established in Sharpsburg, a solidly-Democratic community. Heinz promised to continue the ways of former Congressman Robert Corbett with whom most voters were satisfied. In his platform, he called for the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam, a five percent cut in federal income taxes for families earning less than $12,000 annually, federal assumption of welfare costs, and increased federal aid for education. Since Connelly was often perceived as a hard bargainer in business, Heinz took the opportunity to gain labor support by using such issues as stricter steel import quotas and better pension laws. After spending more than $100,000 on the campaign, he won the special election in a landslide, receiving 67 percent of the votes. The margin of victory was among the highest in the country, and came in a district where registered Republicans comprised only 41 percent of the total electorate. At 33, Heinz became the youngest Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Within a year's time, Representative Heinz faced the general elections of November 1972 and his opponent Democrat Doug Walgren. Due to reapportionment by the State Legislature, he also faced a 60 percent-Democratic district. Heinz continued to make inroads into Democratic territory, this time by setting up his campaign headquarters in Carnegie, another strong Democratic borough. The Democratic mayor of Carnegie was even on hand for its opening. Heinz received the endorsement of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as well as from several labor unions, extending the influence from his first campaign. Walgren was underfinanced and no match against the $100,000 spent by Heinz. Heinz's new slogan ("He worked hard. He got results. He'll do it again.") became reality when he was elected to his first full term in the U.S. House of Representatives by an impressive 73 percent margin. His 91,000-vote margin was the largest of any Republican Congressman in the history of Allegheny County, and his percentage was one of the largest in the nation for any congressman.

[JH listening to Watergate tapes 1975]

With the ongoing impeachment hearings of President Richard Nixon, the general elections of 1974 could have proved costly to incumbent Republicans. Heinz returned to the 18th District almost every weekend in 1974 to stay on good terms with his constituency. Even before the May 1974 primary, Heinz was being pressed about how he was going to vote on impeachment. Since he was unopposed in the Republican primary, Heinz devised a daring strategy against his opponents in the Democratic primary, Donald J. Skillin and Francis McArdle: he attempted to win the Democratic nomination on a write-in vote.

He pursued this election strategy for several reasons. First, the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee seemed to be drawing the impeachment hearings out, and if Republicans were forced to vote on the issue close to the November elections, there could be serious repercussions. However, if the nomination of both parties could be secured in May, the November general election would become a mere formality. Second, political contributions were becoming a touchy subject, especially since Pittsburgh-based Gulf Oil was tainted by having made illegal contributions to Heinz. Third, a Republican victory in the Democratic primary would attract nationwide recognition for Heinz in the year of Watergate. Instead of fighting for his political life, Heinz could be swept to victory unopposed by Republicans and over the Democratic-endorsed candidate in its own primary. Fourth, a May victory would allow Heinz to speak and travel on behalf of other Republicans. Fifth, polls showed that Heinz had a 93 percent name recognition factor in the district, compared to about two percent for both Skillin and McArdle.

Unfortunately, Heinz's tactic failed in May with a loss to McArdle, who was not even the endorsed Democratic candidate. As the November general election approached, Heinz recruited great numbers of volunteers to conduct door-to-door canvassing and make telephone calls on his behalf. The results were not disappointing: Heinz was returned to Congress by an overwhelming majority of 72 percent of the vote.

Legislative Efforts and Accomplishments

Commenting on his first 100 days in office, Congressman Heinz said, "I have attempted to wear no label, neither 'liberal' nor 'conservative' nor 'pro-labor' nor 'pro-management.' I have acted in each case on the basis of what I believe is right for my constituents, for our state and for the country."

As the youngest member of the 92nd Congress, Representative Heinz soon developed expertise in the three issues upon which his national reputation would be based: the elderly, international commerce, and the environment. He established a voting record that was generally moderate in both foreign and domestic affairs but was decidedly liberal by Republican standards. Heinz, not afraid to show his independence from his party, demanded an early end to American military involvement in Southeast Asia, urged President Nixon to normalize relations with Cuba, and frequently criticized the White House for using the threat of deploying new weapons as a tactic in arms limitations talks with the Soviet Union. On the domestic front, Heinz supported a number of progressive social programs in education, human welfare, health care, housing, and mass transportation, and he regularly approved environmental protection legislation.

[John Heinz at office]

While completing the term of the late Representative Corbett, Heinz served on the Government Operations Committee (November 1971-1972). As a member of its Special Studies Subcommittee, he was instrumental in bringing to Allegheny County a congressional inquiry, the first House hearing ever conducted in that county. The inquiry, held in Pittsburgh in April 1972, gave subcommittee members a firsthand look at how federal programs and regulations were adversely affecting elderly persons. During the next few months, Congressman Heinz helped organize a federal drug education workshop, one of the first of its kind in the nation. In addition, he opened several neighborhood congressional offices, also a first in that part of western Pennsylvania. Both actions reflected his belief that government must be responsive to people. Heinz was also instrumental in organizing a Federal Procurement Conference which was attended by 250 small manufacturers and businessmen interested in doing business with the Federal Government.

After his 1972 victory, Congressman Heinz became a member of the Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee, which dealt with such issues as energy, health, environment, railroads and consumer protection. As a member of its Public Health and Environment Subcommittee (1973-1976), he introduced a wide-ranging series of bills involving a variety of problems, such as making taxes fairer, helping control government spending, tightening environmental control, and assisting older Americans.

After winning reelection in 1974, Heinz was appointed to the Commerce Committee's Energy and Power Subcommittee (1975-1976) and was reappointed to the Public Health and Environment Subcommittee. He was also named to the newly-formed House Select Committee on Aging (1975-1976), which he helped to establish, and served as Ranking Minority Member of the Health and Long-Term Care Subcommittee.

Bills sponsored or cosponsored by Heinz that became law include legislation that restored social service programs to elderly persons not on welfare; created the House Select Committee on Aging; established a National Commission on Diabetes and a program of grants for the development of diabetes research and training centers; provided for the formulation of federal health standards for municipal drinking water; funded the establishment of small neighborhood clinics; boosted Social Security benefits; and provided money to hire Justice Department staff to conduct antitrust investigations. Congressman Heinz also introduced the Rape Prevention and Control Act, legislation to protect a person's privacy, a series of bills to improve nursing home care for the elderly, and legislation to increase tax incentives for charitable and religious contributions.

[Time, July 15, 1974]

In recognition of his leadership in the effort to improve the Community Mental Health Centers program, Congressman Heinz was honored in 1973 by the National Association of Mental Health. He also received the endorsement of the National League of Conservation Voters for his strong backing of tough health standards in the Clean Air Act and for his support for a strict strip-mining law. In its July 15, 1974 special issue featuring "200 Faces for the Future," Time included Heinz in its list of rising young American leaders.

Leadership and Political Activities

Representative John Heinz served on the House Republican Task Force on Health (1971-1972) and the House Republican Task Force on Aging (1973-1976). In April 1974, Heinz founded and served as chairman of the House Republican Task Force on Antitrust and Regulatory Reform (1974-1976). The task force was created to study and recommend to Congress policies to ensure a free and competitive marketplace in which consumers are protected against illegal and anti-competitive practices. During subsequent months with the task force, Heinz led a successful effort to get increased funds for the enforcement on antitrust laws and to exert pressures on Congress to strengthen antitrust procedures and penalties. He was a commissioner to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Pennsylvania Vice Chairman for the Conference of Great Lakes Congressmen (1975-1976), and a co-founder and member of the Environmental Study Conference (1975-1976).

United States Senate


When Senator Scott announced his retirement from the Senate after eighteen years of service, Heinz declared his candidacy for the seat in December 1975. Long touted as a potential successor to Scott, Heinz immediately emerged as the favorite in the April primary election (1976) against Arlen Specter, a onetime Philadelphia district attorney, and George R. Packard, the former managing editor of the Philadelphia Bulletin. The race became much closer than expected after Heinz disclosed his acceptance of $6,000 in illegal corporate campaign money from Gulf Oil while serving in the House. Although Heinz subsequently returned the money, it cast a shadow over the primary campaign and required extensive television advertising to offset the negative publicity. Heinz won the nomination by a narrow margin, beating Specter by only three percent of the votes.

[Swearing in ,1977]

In the November general election, Heinz faced a tough Democratic opponent, Philadelphia Congressman William J. Green III. Most political observers predicted a tight contest by the candidates since Pennsylvania state politics were known to be shaped by a strong east-west division. With a combination of personal finances, labor support, and a strong western Pennsylvania base, Heinz narrowly beat Green by winning 52 percent of the votes. Representative Heinz became Senator Heinz on January 3, 1977.

[Campaign Trail, 1976]

Heinz's overwhelming popularity with his constituents was illustrated in 1982 when he won reelection with 59 percent of the votes. He defeated Allegheny County Commissioner Cyril H. Wecht by capturing every county in the state except the Democratic strongholds of Greene and Fayette and the city of Philadelphia. This victory was the largest win by a Republican in the nation that year, and the biggest margin for any Senate candidate in Pennsylvania in a half century.

Senator Heinz's 1988 re-election campaign was even more impressive. Having spent 12 years nurturing his political base in western Pennsylvania (and much of the last six of those years adding to his campaign treasury), Heinz was in a position to face the toughest challenger. Instead, Joe Vignola, his Democratic opponent, was underfinanced and utterly unknown outside his native Philadelphia, where he had won two terms as the city controller. Heinz led in the polls throughout the election year and captured two-thirds (66 percent) of the statewide vote on election day, the biggest win recorded since a 71 percent win in 1930.

Legislative Efforts and Accomplishments

[President Reagan signing JH bill, 19xx]

Senator John Heinz earned a national reputation based on his work on retirement and aging concerns, health care, international trade and finance, human development, and environmental issues (see Appendix A - Committee Service, Leadership and Political Activities). The Congressional Quarterly described him as a "capable legislator with a solid record on such complex subjects as health and trade policy, pension and Social Security." Shortly after Heinz's death, President Bush noted that, "His steadfast efforts to protect Social Security and heath care benefits for the elderly, his work to ensure both free and fair trade with our trading partners and his commitment to protecting the environment have touched the lives of all Americans."

  • Aging/Retirement and Health Care

    In the six years of Republican control of the Senate (1981-1986), Heinz chaired the Special Committee on Aging, later serving as Ranking Minority Member (1987-1991). Although the committee cannot report legislation, Heinz used his leadership position to focus on the effective management of federal health care spending in Medicare and Medicaid, and to attack fraud and mismanagement on the part of the government. The senator received a presidential appointment to the National Commission on Social Security Reform, which successfully devised a plan to rescue the troubled pension system in 1983. President George Bush appointed him to the National Commission on Health Care Reform, also known as the "Pepper Commission." His role on these commissions, and his work to push their legislation through Congress, earned respect from his colleagues.

    [Heinz with Elderly, 1976]

    Regarded as a champion for the elderly, Heinz's reports on pacemakers, the Social Security disability review process, the Supplemental Security Income program, nursing homes, hospital discharges, dialysis reuse, and rules governing Medicare reimbursement for home health care were the basis for corrective legislation. Heinz introduced bills requiring mandatory second opinions before surgery (1983), establishing quality care standards for nursing homes (1987), and expanding home health care services (1982, 1985, 1987).

    As an influential member of the Senate Finance Committee (1979-1991), Heinz worked to solve the long-range financial problems of the Social Security system. As an attempt to remove the Social Security Trust Fund from federal deficit calculations, he introduced the Social Security Truth in Budgeting Act (1989) and the Social Security Preservation Act (1990). As a strong proponent for eliminating mandatory retirement, Heinz successfully passed legislation to end the financial penalty imposed on Social Security recipients who work after age 65. He followed up that achievement in 1986 when he was the chief advocate of a successful bill to bar mandatory retirement policies by most employers. Heinz also authored a piece of legislation to ensure payment of the Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) (1986).

    [John Heinz with child, 1976]

    The Senator's seat on the Finance Committee allowed him to play a significant role for providing health care to the elderly and to children. Heinz served as a key player to pass catastrophic illness legislation in 1987 and negotiated with the White House over its final provisions and price tag. He led Senate efforts to extend catastrophic Medicare insurance, and worked on rewriting and toughening rules for nursing homes that take Medicare and Medicaid patients.

    Heinz also battled for reforms in the federal disability benefits program for children, such as the Supplemental Security Income program, and he introduced the Children's' Health Access and Prevention Act (CHAP) to provide for an expansion of Medicaid benefits to low-income pregnant women and children. He cosponsored the law which allowed states to expand Medicaid eligibility and access for the pregnant poor (1987) to counter an increase in the infant mortality rate. The senator also played a part in passing the Medicaid Home and Community Quality Services Act (1987) and the Parental/Family and Medical Leave Act (1988).

    His position on the Finance Committee also enabled Heinz to author major revisions in tax laws governing private pension plans as part of the Tax Reform Act of 1986. His proposal sought to encourage firms to provide more retirement protection to lower- and middle-level workers, instead of concentrating on top management, and to require that firms provide full-pension coverage to workers after only five years of service.

  • International Trade/Finance

    Throughout his tenure as senator, Heinz took "a leadership role on almost every international trade and economic policy issue before the Senate," according to the Washington International Business Report. He argued that the United States should strengthen its use of domestic products and defend its vital economic interests against the unfair trading practices of other nations, especially Japan. As one who had long favored a broad revision of the whole structure of U.S. trade laws to help domestic producers compete in world markets, he used his positions on the Finance and Banking committees to reverse the nation's disadvantage, both by promoting exports and applying some curbs on imports. He introduced eight bills that were directly incorporated into the Omnibus Trade Act (1988), which called for stronger action against unfair trading practices by other countries and greater protections for troubled U.S. industries. He also authored the nation's export promotion laws: the Export Trading Company Act of 1982, the Export Administration Act of 1985, and the Fair Export Financing Act of 1986.

    [JH on tour of New Cumberland Army Depot, 1978]

    Heinz emerged as a leading spokesman for a mercantilist U.S. trade policy. As his state's aging industrial economy began to fall victim to competition from other countries, he directed many of his efforts toward specific protections for import-threatened industries in Pennsylvania, notably steel. Heinz worked to bar foreign counties from "dumping" steel in the United States at prices below the cost of production, the frequent trade complaint of U.S. companies. He introduced the Fair Trade in Steel Acts of 1983 and 1984, also known as the steel quota bill. As chairman of the Senate's informal steel caucus, he argued that the voluntary import restraint program adopted by the Reagan Administration should be replaced by strict import quotas, and was sharply critical of the President's decision in 1984 to reject tariffs and quotas for the steel industry. Senator Heinz fought to help the steel industry to meet pollution control standards by introducing the Steel Industry Compliance Extension Act of 1981 (Steel Stretchout), which gave steel companies additional time to comply with air quality standards.

    Heinz also worked to reorient the U.S. to an export-driven economy. As chairman of the International Finance and Monetary Policy Subcommittee (1981-1986), he sponsored a successful bill in 1983 to push the Export-Import Bank into a more aggressive course, offering cheap loans to compete with the subsidies that other countries provide at government expense. In the 99th Congress, he was a prime sponsor of legislation backed by the Reagan Administration to establish a $300 million "war chest" to be used to counter foreign government subsidies. As one of his chief goals in the 98th Congress, Heinz worked to reauthorize the Export Administration Act and improve the market for U.S. goods abroad by discouraging the use of boycotts and embargoes as foreign policy tools.

  • Banking

    [John Heinz with banking chart, 1979]

    While much of his energy on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee (1977-1991) was focused on trade issues, Heinz also played an important role on matters relating to the banking and securities industry. He was a leading opponent in the 98th Congress of Senator Jake Garn's proposal, contained in an overall banking deregulation bill, to allow banks to deal in securities through subsidiaries. Defending the interests of the securities industry, which opposed the provision, Heinz waged a lengthy but losing battle against it on the Senate floor.

    Recognized as a specialist in economic affairs, Heinz took a strong nationalistic stance on money matters. He frequently spoke out against the rapidly increasing number of takeovers of American banks by foreign investors and institutions. In November 1979, Heinz appended to a bank deregulation bill an amendment calling for a six-month moratorium on foreign purchasers of American commercial banks, but the parent measure never became law.

  • Human Interest and Education

    Believing that investment in human potential is the key to a more productive America, Heinz authored legislation to expand and improve the Trade Adjustment Assistance and Title III, Displaced Workers, of the Job Training Partnership Act, signed into law as part of the 1988 Trade Act. Heinz sponsored the Targeted Jobs Tax Credit (TJTC) program (1982, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990) which encouraged businesses to hire and train minority youths and other hard-to-employ groups of individuals. [John Heinz with children, 1972]

    Heinz helped pass landmark legislation (The Act for Better Child Care, S. 5) to provide quality child care to low income families in 1990. Heinz helped to pass the Family Security Act of 1987, a major welfare reform bill that incorporated child support, JOBS (Job Opportunities and Basic Skills), child welfare, and adoption/foster care.

    Heinz also wrote measures to promote better education for America's children through initiatives such as dropout prevention demonstration grants, the magnet schools program, and his Excellence in Education Act. Heinz and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-NY) cosponsored legislation to extend and improve tax incentives for employers to provide continuing education benefits to their employees.

  • Environment

    Regarded as one of the Senate's most innovative environmental thinkers, Heinz played a variety of active roles in seeking workable solutions to the complex environmental threats confronting the global community. He argued that "man's activity is damaging the earth's ability to sustain life in ways we have only begun to understand." In 1988, the senator received the Clean Water Action's Legislative Achievement Award and a campaign endorsement from the League of Conservation Voters.

    Heinz and Senator Tim Wirth (D-CO) teamed up to establish Project 88, a public policy study on the use of market forces to protect the environment, conducted by Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Project 88, praised by President Bush for "bringing creative solutions to long-standing problems," provided the inspiration for key elements of the landmark Clean Air Act Reauthorization passed by the Senate in 1990. The study also provided the basis for bills introduced by Heinz to encourage the recycling of newspapers, motor oil, and other hazardous wastes. The Senate version of the Clean Air Act reauthorization bill contained a Heinz amendment protecting the right of local communities to set tough limits on radionuclide emissions from nuclear facilities.

    Heinz won a major victory for the world's rain forests in 1989 when President Bush signed his legislation to require multi-lateral development banks to encourage sustainable development in developing nations by considering the environmental implications of projects they finance. Heinz also authored legislation to protect ground water and ensure proper maintenance of above-ground storage tanks, and cosponsored a bill to stem global warming. Believing that many of society's environmental problems cut across national lines, Heinz was a founding member of GLOBE (Global Legislators Organisation for a Balanced Environment) International, created in 1989 as a forum for the world's legislators to exchange environmental ideas and concerns, and he chaired GLOBE-US. He also was chosen by his colleagues to participate in the U.S. delegation to the Interparliamentary Conference on the Global Environment in 1989.

    [John Heinz with chart of Wilderness Act, 1982]

    Heinz endeavored to raise public awareness of environmental problems and of the solutions available to individuals. As a member of the national board for Earth Day, Heinz supported a variety of organizations with educational missions. He co-chaired the Alliance to Save Energy, served as a board member to the Environment and Energy Study Institute, and, along with Senator Al Gore (D-TN), sponsored EarthTech 90, a "World's Fair" of environmentally-benign technology on the National Mall in 1990.

    To benefit his constituency, Heinz co-wrote the Pennsylvania Wilderness Act, which set aside portions of the Allegheny National Forest as the state's only wilderness area. He also wrote the law that established the Tinicum Marsh Wildlife Center and was active in securing federal help to preserve Erie's Presque Isle from beach erosion. To address serious threats to the state's water quality posed by toxic wastes and other pollutants, he supported laws to establish Superfund legislation, the Leaking Underground Storage Tanks Trust Fund (LUST), and the Clean Water Act.

  • Pennsylvania

    [JH speaking at town meeting, 1980]

    Heinz devoted many of his working hours to respond to the needs of Pennsylvania, a traditional manufacturing state in economic transition. As a believer in free enterprise, Heinz advocated a partnership among various levels of government and the private sector in an effort to harness the creativity of business to solve critical problems. To remain in touch with his constituents, he held over 500 town meetings in every corner of the Commonwealth during his tenure and made countless visits with Pennsylvania's high school and college students, civic leaders, public officials, educators, working people, and newspaper editorial boards, crediting his constituents with providing some of his best ideas.

    Heinz wrote legislation to encourage low income housing development and the preservation of historic buildings in Pennsylvania. The senator was a forceful advocate for the retention of Industrial Development Bonds, a tax preferred security widely used by Pennsylvania communities to finance community development projects. Heinz favored an overhaul of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's natural disaster relief program, an initiative that won the backing of national organizations of local and state officials and was enacted into law by the 100th Congress. Working with local officials, Heinz successfully amended the 1988 Anti-Drug Act to grant additional federal assistance to embattled communities.

    [John Heinz walking over bridge, 1978]

    In order to restore the state's transportation network, the base for economic growth and job creation, Heinz won the passage of laws to create a special federal bridge repair program, to improve mass transit assistance, to allocate federal funds to new toll road projects, and to modernize waterways. Believing that failure to enact the highway bill would cost Pennsylvania an entire construction season as well as the $500 million annually provided to Pennsylvania under highway programs, Heinz made the decisive vote to override President Reagan's veto of the highway bill in late Spring of 1987.

    Heinz conducted a thorough investigation into severe management problems at the Internal Revenue Service's Philadelphia Service Center from 1984 to 1985. As a result of his legislation and probes, problems such as destroyed taxpayer returns, huge backlogs, refund delays and continuous errors were corrected. Heinz twice obtained relief for business from high unemployment compensation tax penalties through legislative action, saving state businesses more than $1.5 billion in penalties from 1985 to 1990. He was instrumental in killing the Internal Revenue Service's proposed auto-log regulations in 1985 and cosponsored legislation to enact a taxpayers' bill of rights.

    Senate Leadership

    Heinz's Senate colleagues chose him to chair the Senate Steel Caucus (1983-1991), the Senate Coal Caucus (1983-1988), and the Senate Northeast-Midwest Coalition (1984-1991). He was a founding member of the Northeast-Midwest Institute as well as the Environment and Energy Study Conference. He chaired the Alliance to Save Energy (1983-1989) and served as a member of the Helsinki Commission (1987-1988), which monitored compliance with human rights accords in Eastern Europe.

    [George Bush, Bob Dole & John Heinz, 1988]

    During the 1979-1980 election cycle, Heinz's Republican colleagues elected him to chair the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), a political fundraising committee devoted to supporting incumbent Republican senators and to increasing Republican membership in the U.S. Senate. He not only acquired more than $20 million, but helped the party gain control of the Senate for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century. Although Heinz performed brilliantly, his Republican colleagues rejected him in 1980 for GOP Conference chairman, the third-ranking leadership position. To make matters worse, Heinz lost to James McClure of Idaho, who already possessed a prize chairmanship of his own as head of the Senate Energy Committee.

    Heinz partially avenged that loss in 1984 when he ran for his old post of campaign committee chairman for the 1985-1986 election cycle, defeating Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming by one vote. At the same time, Heinz chaired the Republican Presidential Task Force, which also shared the NRSC's commitment to increasing the number of Republican members in the Senate. He served as a member of the Republican National Committee's Labor Advisory Council (1982-1984) and chaired the Republican Conference Task Force on Job Training and Education (1986-1988).

    Death of H. John Heinz III

    After speaking at a news conference in Williamsport, Pennsylvania on April 4, 1991, Heinz was headed to Philadelphia to conduct the first in a series of investigative hearings to examine the telemarketing of medical equipment to Medicare beneficiaries, "Bleeding Medicare Dry: The Great Sales Scam." When the twin-engine plane carrying him and four other adults developed landing-gear trouble, a helicopter was dispatched to examine the problem. Consequently, the helicopter's blades accidentally hit the bottom of the plane, sending both aircraft to the ground and killing everyone on board. Two children, who were playing outside at noon recess at the Merion Elementary School in Montgomery County, were also killed when the wreckage fell on the school ground.

    [John Heinz, 1976]

    Memorial services were held in Pittsburgh at the Heinz Memorial Chapel on the University of Pittsburgh's Oakland campus on April 10. Following the service, Heinz was buried in the family mausoleum in Homewood Cemetery. Another memorial service was held on April 12 at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. In a White House statement, President Bush remarked, "The people of Pennsylvania have lost a great leader, and the nation has lost a great senator... His leadership and commitment will be greatly missed."

    H. John Heinz III Archives