H. J. Heinz II

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Henry John "Jack" Heinz II (1908–1987) was an American business executive and CEO of the H. J. Heinz Company based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. He was the father of H. John Heinz III, Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, and father-in-law of Teresa Heinz Kerry, his son's widow, who is the wife of current Secretary of State John Kerry.

Early life, education, early career[edit]

Heinz was born to Howard Covode Heinz and Elizabeth Rust Heinz and the grandson and namesake of the company founder, Henry J. Heinz.

He was educated at Choate, graduated from Yale University, where he was a member of the Skull and Bones secret society, and also graduated from Oxford University, but spent his summers working for the Heinz Company in the pickling and salting stations, as bookkeeper and as handyman. He later joined the sales force in England.[1]

Private life[edit]

Jack married Joan Diehl, a pioneer aviatrix, in 1935. They were the parents of one son, H.J. Heinz III. They established their home, Rosemont Farm, in the Fox Chapel suburb of Pittsburgh. The couple divorced in 1942.

In 1953, Jack married Drue Maher, with whom he shared a love of philanthropy, skiing, art collecting and world travel.

H.J. Heinz Company and World War II[edit]

In 1941, Jack became president of the Heinz Company upon his father's death of a stroke, and led the company through the challenges of World War II.[2] He made five trips to England during the war: once to see about the bombed plant in Harlesden, and several times by request of the British government to assist with its food shortages. He also aided the Netherlands with their food challenges.

The Heinz plant in Pittsburgh was converted to producing gliders for the War Department for a time.

As chairman of the United War Fund, Heinz routinely gave speeches about food conservation, rationing, and allocations. After the war, he served as chairman of the Community Chest, which became the United Way.


In 1966, Jack resigned as president and CEO, turning over day-to-day operations to a non-family member, R. Burt Goodkin, for the first time in company history. He served as chairman of the board from 1966 until his death.


After the war, Heinz teamed up with Richard King Mellon and Pittsburgh mayor David Lawrence for Renaissance I, a plan to usher modernity to Pittsburgh, which included smoke-control ordinances to clear the air of smoke and soot from the steel mills.

He was the driving force for the creation of downtown Pittsburgh's Cultural District, a major legacy of his work as a philanthropist and community leader. He was the first chairman of the Howard Heinz Endowment serving from 1941 until his death in 1987. One of his early projects was the conversion of Lowe's Penn Theater to the current Heinz Hall, home of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

He also served first as the Pittsburgh Fire Bureau Chief from 1935 until 1936 and then as Allegheny County Sheriff for Pittsburgh from 1938 until 1942,[3] and being one of the original investors in the city's effort to win an NHL franchise, becoming part owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 1967 until the early 1970s.[4]

Leadership of the Heinz Company[edit]

As president of the Heinz Company, Jack launched subsidiaries in the Netherlands, Portugal, Venezuela, Japan, and Italy.[5]

Acquisitions of Star-Kist Foods Inc. and Ore-Ida Foods Inc. are considered the hallmarks of his tenure. He also presided over the opening of a baby food plant on mainland China.


A lifelong Republican, Jack chaired the U.S. arm of the International Chamber of Commerce from 1948-1951. He was tapped by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to head a special aid mission to assess the effectiveness of an emergency economic aid program to Pakistan. He also chaired the U.S. delegation to a Economic Commission for Europe in 1958 and 1959. He was a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.[6]


In 1979, Queen Elizabeth II made Heinz an Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, citing him "for significant contribution in the furtherance of British-American relationships, especially in the cultural, educational and economic fields."

He received decorations from Italy, France, and Greece.


On 23 February 1987, Henry John Heinz II died of cancer at the family's winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida, at the age of seventy-eight.[7]


  1. ^ "John Heinz: A Western Pennsylvania Legacy". Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Collection of H.J. Heinz Co.". Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Richard Smith, Ex-Fire Chief, Dies in South". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Aug 27, 1949. p. 8. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  4. ^ "1967-68 NHL Expansion". Pittsburghhockey.net. Retrieved 2012-07-26. 
  5. ^ "Henry J. Heinz; Ex-Chairman of Food Empire". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "Former Steering Committee Members". bilderbergmeetings.org. Bilderberg Group. Retrieved 2014-02-08. 
  7. ^ "HENRY JOHN HEINZ 2D DIES AT 78; LED INTERNATIONAL FOOD COMPANY". The New York Times. Associated Press. Retrieved 6 May 2015.