Sen. H. John Heinz III

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 primarily with his mother and stepfather in San Francisco. After his graduation in 1956 from Phillips Exeter Academy, Heinz enrolled at Yale University.  He completed his bachelor's degree in 1960 in "History, the Arts and Letters." He entered Harvard Business School in 1961, and the following summer worked for the Union Bank of Switzerland in Geneva.  There he met his future wife, Teresa Simoes-Ferreira, who was in Geneva attending graduate school.  He received his Master's degree in Business Administration from Harvard in 1963.

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. He received an honorable discharge in 1969 at the rank of staff sergeant.  In 1966, he married Teresa and in the following years they 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.

Through the Heinz Charitable and Family Trust and the Howard and Vira Heinz Endowment, 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 of the Commonwealth, Heinz served on the boards of the 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).   


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).

Heinz 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.


H. John Heinz III and Fred Rogers kneel next to a child and handle a chicken.
H. John Heinz III and Fred Rogers



In April 1971, Heinz was elected to fill Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District seat, left vacant due to the sudden death of Robert J. Corbett. 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.  He successfully ran for reelection in 1972 and 1974.

When Senator Scott announced his retirement after eighteen years in the U.S. Senate, 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 one-time Philadelphia district attorney, and George R. Packard, the former managing editor of the Philadelphia Bulletin. After Heinz revealed his acceptance of $6,000 in unlawful corporate campaign money from Gulf Oil while sitting in the House, the race became considerably closer than predicted. Although Heinz subsequently returned the money, it cast a shadow over the primary campaign. However, he ultimately won the nomination, beating out Specter by a narrow three-percent margin.

In the November general election, Heinz faced 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 fifty-two percent of the votes. Representative Heinz soon became Senator Heinz on January 3, 1977 and was subsequently re-elected in 1982 and 1988.


Legislative Efforts and Accomplishments

Commenting on his first 100 days in office, Representative 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." During his time in the House and Senate, Heinz was known as a moderate – he criticized the White House under Nixon and supported progressive social programs in education, human welfare, health care, housing, and mass transportation. He also supported environmental protections. 

Heinz focused his legislative efforts on the elderly, international commerce, and the environment. In the House, he helped establish the House Select Committee on Aging, worked to strengthen Social Security, and vocally supported the Clean Air Act. In the Senate, he chaired the Senate Special Committee on Aging, and served on the National Commission on Social Security Reform, and the “Pepper Commission” (National Commission on Health Care Reform). Heinz continued his work to protect Social Security, expand Medicaid, and he introduced bills to protect the steel industry, particularly in Pennsylvania


Party 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.

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.  Heinz lost a bid for GOP Conference Chairman to James McClure of Idaho in 1980.

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. At the same time, Heinz chaired the Republican Presidential Task Force, which 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.  When the twin-engine plane carrying him and four others developed landing-gear trouble, a helicopter was dispatched to examine the problem. 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. 

On April 10, memorial services were held at the Heinz Chapel on the University of Pittsburgh's Oakland campus.Following the service, John 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."



Committee Membership

U.S. House of Representatives - November 4, 1971-January 3, 1977  (92nd-94th Congress)


Government Operations Committee

Special Studies Subcommittee, 1971-1972


Interstate and Foreign Commerce Committee

Public Health and Environment Subcommittee, 1973-1976

Energy and Power Subcommittee, 1975-1976


House Select Committee on Aging

Health and Long-Term Care Subcommittee, 1975-1976


U.S. Senate -- January 3, 1977 - April 4, 1991  (95th-102nd Congress)

Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, 1977-1991

Economic Policy Subcommittee, 1981-1982

Financial Institutions Subcommittee, 1979-1980, 1983-1984

Housing and Urban Affairs Subcommittee, 1977-1988

International Finance and Monetary Policy Subcommittee, 1977-1980 (Ranking), 1981-1986

(Chair), 1987-1990

Production and Stabilization Subcommittee, 1977-1978 (Ranking)

            Rural Housing and Development Subcommittee, 1981-1982

Securities Subcommittee, 1985-1986, 1989-1990


Budget Committee, 1977-1978


Energy and Natural Resources Committee, 1981-1984

Energy Conservation and Supply Subcommittee, 1981-1984

Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee, 1981-1984

Energy Regulation Subcommittee, 1981-1982

Energy Research and Development Subcommittee, 1983-1984


Finance Committee, 1979-1991

Economic Growth, Employment and Revenue Sharing Subcommittee, 1981-1984 (Chair)

Health Subcommittee, 1981-1988

International Trade Subcommittee, 1979-1991

Medicare and Long-Term Care Subcommittee, 1989-1991

Private Retirement Plans and Oversight of Internal Revenue Service Subcommittee, 1979-1980   (Ranking), 1987-1991

Public Assistance Subcommittee, 1979-1980 (Ranking)

Savings, Pension and Investment Policy Subcommittee, 1985-1986 (Chair)


Governmental Affairs Committee, 1977-1978, 1987-1991

Civil Service and General Services Subcommittee, 1977-1978

Federal Services, Post Office and Civil Service Subcommittee, 1991

Federal Spending, Budget and Accounting Subcommittee, 1987-1988

Federal Spending Practices and Open Government Subcommittee, 1977-1978 (Ranking)

General Services, Federalism and D.C. Subcommittee, 1989-1991

Government Efficiency, Federalism and D.C. Subcommittee, 1987-1988

Government Information and Regulation Subcommittee, 1989-1990

Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee, 1977-1978

Oversight of Government Management Subcommittee, 1987-1991


Special Committee on Aging, 1979-1980, 1981-1986 (Chair), 1987-1991 (Ranking)


The papers of Rep. John Heinz document his tenure as Republican United States Representative and Senator. The collection is divided into two record groups: Heinz House Papers and Heinz Senate Papers. A third group, Heinz Special Materials, contains memorabilia, photographs, and audiovisual material and has not been digitized.

While the entirety of the papers have been digitized, some material has subsequently been removed due to privacy and copyright concerns.


Heinz House Papers

The Heinz House Papers are divided into five subgroups: Legislative Records, Personal/Political Records, Press Relations/Media Activity Records, Constituent Service Records, and Office Administration Records. 

Legislative Records

The Legislative Records subgroup contains memoranda, correspondence, drafts of legislation, statements and speeches, Congressional Record excerpts, Dear Colleague letters, voting records, reference binders, and research material.  The subgroup documents Representative Heinz’s work on several House committees, his voting record, and his legislative activities, including his sponsored and cosponsored bills and amendments. 

Personal/Political Records

The Personal/Political Records subgroup includes series of files that reflect the personal and political activities of Representative Heinz.  The material documents Heinz’s three successful campaigns, his leadership on the House Republican Task Force on Antitrust and Regulatory Reform, and scheduling and appearance files.

Press Relations/Media Activity Records

The Press Relations/Media Activity Records subgroup includes newspaper clippings that document Representative Heinz’s activities in Pennsylvania and the 18th District, press releases issued by the Heinz office, and speeches delivered by Heinz and Republican colleagues.

Constituent Service Records

The Constituent Service Records subgroup documents the work Representative Heinz and his staff performed for the residents of the 18th Congressional District. This often involved: the processing of constituent requests for help with federal agencies, the solving of constituent problems, and the scheduling meetings with groups from communities, business and other organizations. The subgroup comprises casework, constituent correspondence, files on regional projects, the Pittsburgh office files, and service academy material.

The Office Administration Records subgroup documents office operations and procedures as well as the work of the office staff.


Heinz Senate Papers

The papers have been organized under five subgroups: Legislative Records, Personal/Political Records, Press Relations/Media Activity Records, Constituent Service Records and Office Administration Records.

The Legislative Records subgroup contains the bulk of the collection and is generally comprised of the following: correspondence; memoranda; drafts of legislation; statements and speeches; secondary material collected for reference; and official printed material such as voting records, committee prints and hearings. The subgroup documents Senator Heinz’s work on several Senate committees, the work of his Legislative Assistants (LA's) and Legislative Directors (LD's), his voting/attendance records and his legislative activities, including his sponsored and cosponsored bills and amendments.  


The Personal/Political Records subgroup includes series of files that document the personal and political activities of Senator Heinz and supplement information about his Senate career found in the other subgroups. The subgroup contains material from the Senator's three successful campaigns, VIP correspondence, personal working files, monthly activity reports, schedules and appearance files, and State Department files. It also contains material documenting his party leadership involvement, notably his chairmanship of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and membership and participation with several Congressional (bipartisan) and public service organizations.

 The Press Relations/Media Activity Records subgroup contains editorials, media watches, comprehensive newspaper clippings, press packets, press releases and files compiled by Senator Heinz’s press secretaries and assistants. The Press Secretary series includes: editorials and articles written by Senator Heinz, his television appearances, transcripts of interviews, speeches, and articles about the death of John Heinz and his impact on the nation.

The Constituent Service Records subgroup documents Senator Heinz’s efforts to promote the views, goals, and agendas of his constituency by providing constituent assistance, information, and state services. Senator Heinz’s representational duties included communicating with his constituency, receiving people’s opinions through issue mail, and keeping constituents informed about issues that affected their interests.  He devoted substantial time and resources to the provision of constituent services, as demonstrated by the existence of state offices in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Erie, and Scranton.  These offices handled constituent requests, responded to their opinions, provided information, processed casework, assisted groups with their efforts to secure federal grants and with other projects, and handled service academy appointments.  The Administrative Assistants and Executive Assistants in the Heinz office provided structure and management to the constituent service activities.  Their papers document the role of the staff, their interrelationships, and their role in accomplishing Senator Heinz’s legislative goals. The Grants/Projects series documents the Senator’s efforts to channel federal money to Pennsylvania cities, towns, small businesses, private research groups, and non-profit social services. It also documents Heinz's efforts to find federal funding for community action organizations that needed financial assistance with water and sewer projects, highways, dams, buildings, planning, research and development, small business loans, etc.

The Office Administration Records subgroup documents the work of the office managers, office operations, procedures, and personnel.  It comprises efforts by Senator Heinz to send personal messages to his constituents, such as: birthday, anniversary, and congratulatory wishes; thank you letters; recommendations; condolences; and the many thank you letters he received in return.


Accessing the Collection

The Sen. H. John Heinz III papers are available for research in the Carnegie Mellon University Archives. Contact the archives to schedule an appointment.


Copyright for the collection has been transferred to Carnegie Mellon University. The collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright is not held. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.


Digitization of the Sen. H. John Heinz III papers was made possible through support from the Heinz family and the Heinz Family Foundations.