The Pittsburgh Foundation

Vira I. Heinz Fund

Established: 12/30/1953

Vira M. Ingham grew up in what was the Brighton Heights neighborhood of Pittsburgh and married Clifford S. Heinz, son of Henry J. Heinz, founder of the modern food processing company. Clifford died in 1953. Vira passed away on March 31, 1983.

Her devotion to philanthropic and civic work in Pittsburgh is legendary. She spent five decades dedicated to charitable work, firmly establishing herself as a strong female leader in a world that was, at the time, dominated by men. As a board member of the H.J. Heinz Company, she was the first woman of a multinational corporation based in Pittsburgh to serve in this capacity. She was also the first woman Trustee of Carnegie Mellon University.

It would be difficult to list all of Vira's many accomplishments. Among the highlights, she was Vice President of the World Council of Christian Education and an active supporter of its work in Africa, founder of the Civic Light Opera, President and principal benefactor of the Pittsburgh Youth Symphony, member of the Boards of the Pittsburgh Chamber Music Society, the Pittsburgh Opera and the Pittsburgh Symphony Society.

She received the Chancellor's Medal from the University of Pittsburgh and honorary degrees from eleven colleges and universities. She served as a member of the board of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh and was an honorary fellow of the American College of Hospital Administrators.

Vira was a well-known catalyst in the community. As one colleague remarked, she validated any pursuit she became involved with, not only through her philanthropic influence but by the sheer strength of her personality. She is remembered as a woman of warmth and caring, someone for whom civic accomplishments took second place to her concern for others.

Her generosity extended to the fund, created in her name, to continue to provide for those in need and distress and to those whose talents and insights enrich the lives of others.

Type of Fund

  • Unrestricted