H. John Heinz III, U.S. Senator

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Henry John Heinz, III

Birthdate: (52)
Birthplace: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Death: April 4, 1991 (52)
Immediate Family:

Son of Henry John "Jack" Heinz, II and Joan Heinz
Husband of Teresa Heinz (Maria Teresa Simões-Ferreira)
Father of <private> Heinz IV; <private> Thierstein Heinz and <private> Heinz

Occupation: US Senator from PA; Heinz Fortune
Managed by: Geoffrey David Trowbridge
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About H. John Heinz III, U.S. Senator


Henry John Heinz III (October 23, 1938 – April 4, 1991) was an American politician from Pennsylvania, a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives (1971–1977) and the United States Senate (1977–1991).

Early life

Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Heinz was the son of H. J. Heinz II (heir to the H. J. Heinz Company) and Joan Diehl. His parents divorced, and Heinz moved to San Francisco, California with his mother and his stepfather, U.S. Navy Captain Clayton C. McCauley. He graduated from the Town School, Phillips Exeter Academy, in 1956, and Yale University, where he was a member of Manuscript Society, in 1960. He then earned an MBA from Harvard Business School in 1963. In 1963, Heinz enlisted in the United States Air Force and served on active duty from June to December of that year at Lackland Air Force Base. He then served with the 911th Troop Carrier Group, based at the Greater Pittsburgh Airport, as a member of the United States Air Force Reserve. In 1969 his rank was staff sergeant.

Academic and business activities

From 1970 to 1971, Heinz was a member of the faculty at the Graduate School of Industrial Administration at Carnegie Mellon University. His career as a businessman included positions as an analyst in the controller's division, and numerous positions in the marketing division of the H. J. Heinz Company.

Public service

House of Representatives

In 1971, he was elected by special election to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Robert J. Corbett during the 92nd Congress. He defeated Gateway Clipper Fleet creator John E. Connelly. He was reelected to the 93rd and 94th Congresses.


Heinz was elected to the Senate in 1976, aided by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision, Buckley v. Valeo, issued mid-campaign, which invalidated statutory restrictions on the spending of one's own personal funds in a political campaign. Heinz spent millions of dollars attacking Democratic nominee Bill Green, a seven-term congressman from Philadelphia and future mayor of that city, as being "soft" on military issues because he had voted against various Defense appropriation bills in the Vietnam War era.

In the early 1990s, Heinz was one of the leaders within the Senate on the issue of US economic competitiveness. Heinz's position was in direct contradiction to the much-publicized platform of the Republican Party and in direct opposition to the Bush White House. Heinz maintained that the US economic health and competitiveness was in a state of rapid decline and that the Bush administration, in contrast to the Reagan administration, both denied the problem and continued to execute policies that were not just neutral to the problem but rather accelerated the decline.

As the US decline accelerated, Heinz quietly assembled a "lunch meeting" group of Republican senators who were like-minded in their concern for US competitiveness but knew that their concern was in direct opposition to the White House and Republican Party. One of the group's initiatives was to back the reinstatement or refocusing of several of the Reagan administration’s key programs for rebuild US competitiveness (e.g., the Defense Manufacturing Board, the US intelligence community's Project Socrates) With the untimely death of Heinz, the group ceased to meet.


Heinz and six other people were killed on April 4, 1991, when a Bell 412 helicopter collided with the Senator's Piper Aerostar plane over Merion Elementary School in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania. All aboard the two aircraft and two first-grade girls playing outside the school were killed. The helicopter had been dispatched to check out a problem with the landing gear of Heinz's plane. While moving in for a closer look, the helicopter's rotor blades struck the bottom of the plane, causing both aircraft to lose control and crash.

Senator Heinz was interred in the Heinz family mausoleum in Homewood Cemetery, located in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA.


The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum was renamed following his death. The 1,200 acre (4.9 km²) refuge includes the largest remaining freshwater tidal marsh in Pennsylvania as well as other habitats that are home to a variety of plants and animals native to Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Several institutions bear his name, including:

Senator H. John Heinz III Archives at the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries

H. John Heinz III College at Carnegie Mellon University

H. John Heinz III Center For Science, Economics and The Environment

Senator John Heinz History Center

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H. John Heinz III, U.S. Senator's Timeline

October 23, 1938
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
April 4, 1991
Age 52