PITTSBURGH – This western Pennsylvania city may owe its post-World War II prosperity to steel, but it’s the ketchup that made Sen. John Kerry’s wife so famously rich.

That wealth has afforded condiment heir Teresa Heinz Kerry and her family a long legacy of philanthropy, something almost certain to help her second husband’s appeal in an important section of a key electoral state.

The Heinz name – now strongly associated with that of the Democratic presidential candidate – is plastered across numerous high-profile buildings and cultural institutions throughout the city.

There is Heinz Field (home of the Pittsburgh Steelers), the Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts, the Heinz Memorial Chapel and the Sen. John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center – just to name a few.

A recent analysis of public records by the Los Angeles Times showed Heinz Kerry, 65, controls a family fortune worth an estimated $1 billion. If elected, the couple would rank as the wealthiest to occupy the White House.

The Heinz family has long been known for its philanthropy, especially in the Pittsburgh area. It has funded art museums, scholarships, charities, hospitals, literary awards, symphonies, women’s health programs and more.

Boosting his ties to the area, Kerry has spent several weekends during the campaign on the estate his wife owns northeast of the city. The Massachusetts senator also announced his running mate, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, at a downtown rally here last week.

The couple refer to the estate as “the farm,” but it’s not very pastoral, at least in the Midwestern sense of the word. There’s a vegetable garden and campaign workers say there also are a few cows and chickens on the 88-acre property in Fox Chapel, Pa.

The $4 million property, one of five homes the couple own across the country, includes a nine-room Colonial and a carriage house. It is where Heinz Kerry raised her three sons and where she is registered to vote.

Pointing to the loss of steel and industrial jobs, Heinz Kerry seemed to mention the charitable work her family has done for the area as she posed on the wooded estate for the first family portrait of the new Kerry-Edwards political clan last week.

“It’s been 20-plus years now, almost 30, that people in this area have been hit by loss of jobs,” she said. “We have worked very hard here to try to turn this place around.”

The Mozambique-born matriarch went on to point to several political battlegrounds that she also views as needing the help Pittsburgh has received from charities and public investments. “America is full of places like the Ohio Valley, Youngstown, West Virginia,” she said.

Heinz Kerry’s first husband, Republican Sen. John Heinz, died in a 1991 plane crash. He had served in the Senate since 1977 and was a member of the House for three terms before that.

At the regional history center that bears the Heinz name, there are only a few mementos from his political career, one being a campaign bumper sticker that features his name printed in ketchup red.

Still, half of a floor in the museum is devoted to Pittsburgh-based H.J. Heinz Co., a major employer and a company with more than 130 years of history here. Ketchup bottles line several displays as visitors enter the exhibit.

The company’s story began in 1869, when 25-year-old H.J. Heinz began selling horseradish to grocery stores in the Pittsburgh area. Four years later, he started making ketchup.

The young entrepreneur anticipated that an increasingly urban nation would welcome the convenience of ready-made products. “Many women appreciated the ease of simply opening a bottle of sauce or a crock of preserves,” the exhibit states.

By the time of H.J. Heinz’s death in 1919, the company was one of the largest food processors in the nation, selling condiments, sauces, pickles and preserves around the world.

The exhibit also lets visitors in on the secret of how the “57” in the “Heinz 57” name was selected. There were more than 57 varieties of condiments at the time, but H.J. Heinz simply liked the number’s sound.

Today, the company makes more than 4,000 varieties. Although the bottles don’t carry the Kerry name, around here they might as well.

(c) 2004, Chicago Tribune.

Visit the Chicago Tribune on the Internet at http://www.chicagotribune.com/

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-07-11-04 0602EDT

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