Sen. John Heinz, R-Pa., heir to the family ketchup and pickle empire, was one of the wealthiest men in Congress and was popular with Pennsylvania voters who elected him three times to the House and three times to the Senate.
Heinz, a multimillionaire and the state's senior senator, and six others were killed Thursday when the small plane he was flying collided with a helicopter and crashed into a schoolyard in suburban Philadelphia. He was 52.
'The death of Senator John Heinz deprives Pennsylvania and the nation of one of our truly outstanding leaders,' said Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, a former governor of Pennsylvania.
Born in Pittsburgh and educated at Yale and the Harvard Business School, Heinz's political career began in 1964 when he joined the staff of former Sen. Hugh Scott, R-Pa.
He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1968 before gaining a seat in Congress in 1971 in a special election to fill the House seat vacated by the death of Rep. Robert Corbett, R-Pa.
Heinz, an Air Force veteran, was re-elected in 1972 and 1974 before winning a seat in the Senate in 1976. He spent a total of $6 million in his first Senate primary and general campaigns, including $2.5 million of his own money. He was re-elected with 60 percent of the vote in 1982 and won again in 1988 with 67 percent support. His current term expired in 1995.
As a Republican, he maintained a liberal voting record, especially on labor issues. His last committee assignments included: Banking, Finance and Governmental Affairs.
He also was a member of the Helsinki Commission, which was charged with oversight of compliance with the international treaty establishing basic human rights in Europe.
A vehement opponent of U.S. free trade, Heinz introduced legislation to restrict foreign countries from dumping steel in the United States at prices below the cost of production. He also advocated protection against products subsidized by foreign governments.
Heinz's last major fight was for legislation that would have prohibited sending into the Persian Gulf war zone military single parents or both members of a couple with children. It did not pass before the end of the war but was incoporated as an objective for the Pentagon to study.
His great-grandfather founded the Heinz company in Sharpsburg, Pa., in 1869. He developed it into a worldwide food processing company -- one of the largest in the industry -- and coined the phrase '57 varieties' to advertise Heinz products.
Heinz's father, Henry J. Heinz II, was chairman of the H.J. Heinz Co. from 1959 until his death in 1987.
Heinz was married to Teresa Simoes-Ferreira. They had three children.