The mysterious H. John Heinz IV

This entry was published at least two years ago (originally posted on August 12, 2004). Since that time the information may have become outdated or my beliefs may have changed (in general, assume a more open and liberal current viewpoint). A fuller disclaimer is available.

Of the various children and stepchildren of John Kerry and Teresa Heinz-Kerry, one has been conspicuously absent from all of the various political appearances and shenanigans: H. John Heinz IV, Teresa’s oldest child. As it turns out, he’s a very private man, doing his best to keep him and his family out of the limelight. A difficult task, I’m sure, especially with the current presidential campaign in full swing.

Still, a few details do surface from time to time, and I’ve got to say that not only does John sounds like an incredibly accomplished and very interesting individual, he apparently also has impeccable fashion sense.

What’s known is this: Heinz IV, 37, is an accomplished blacksmith who trained at Williamsburg, Va., and sometimes wears a workman’s kilt, called a “Utilikilt,” at his forge in rural Pennsylvania.

He fabricates custom-made historical arms and armor, tools and architectural hardware, 10 percent down.

He’s a Buddhist who teaches meditation and who practices the Zen martial art of Shim Gum Do.

He was the founder and funder of a school for teenagers “at risk of not succeeding in life,” as Heinz IV himself once described it. For several years, the school was situated on a 136-acre tract he owns in Upper Black Eddy, Pa.

He cared for his daughter, Astrid, now 4, while his nutritionist wife, Kristann, 34, attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania.

An artist, he drew the portrait for medallions given to recipients of Heinz Awards, which are offered, along with a \$250,000 grant, in memory of his father, the late Sen. John Heinz III (R-Pa.).

And he sits on the board of the \$862-million Howard Heinz Endowment, chaired by his mother.


Heinz IV dubbed his made- to-order blacksmith business Herugrim, which in Old English means “fierce in war,” his Web site says. Heinz IV’s forge specializes in medieval-style helmets, cutting tools (swords, knives, axes and chisels), hinges, locks and nails. Most of the hardware he fabricates is for 18th century homes and buildings.

There is evidence that Heinz IV can be generous to a fault. When the Utilikilts team, based in Seattle, showed up for a Pennsylvania festival, they transported plenty of kilts, leather and otherwise, but they had no room for their tent or display racks.

Their Web site says “Utilikiltarian” Heinz IV came to the rescue, fabricating display racks in a four-hour session at his forge.

A festival photo shows Heinz IV smiling and playful in a mock chorus line, with everyone in kilts. For the camera, he coyly lifts his kilt to mid-thigh, far above his scuffed dark workboots and rolled-down socks.

A Utilikilts representative declined to comment, but the company Web site says Heinz IV and his wife “stepped up to take excellent care of us.”

Best of luck to John and his family in the coming months — but at the same time, I’ll keep hoping to see a guy in a kilt show up at some important presidental function eventually…

(via the Yahoo! Utilikilts Group)

iTunes: “White Whisper” by Deep Forest from the album Deep Forest (1992, 5:45).