In Memory of James M. Walton

In Memory of James M. Walton

James ‘Jim’ M. Walton

With deep sadness, members of the Heinz family and The Heinz Endowments extend heartfelt tribute to James ‘Jim’ M. Walton, following his passing on January 2, 2022. In October 2020, shortly before his 90th birthday, Mr. Walton retired from the Endowments Board as Vice Chairman Emeritus, after a tenure spanning more than 37 years.

“Jim leaves our community and beyond a legacy of extraordinary achievements,” said André Heinz, Board Chairman of The Heinz Endowments. “Especially, we reflect on Jim’s human qualities that have distinguished his success, as a senior corporate executive, as a philanthropic leader, as a husband, father and grandfather, as a friend and counselor, and as a man whose humor, wisdom and elegance illuminated our progress throughout his leadership with the Endowments and its predecessor organizations.” 

“Jim was always approachable, respectful and with a listening ear, had a sincere interest in all people and new ideas, with a ready wit, good humored and razor sharp.”

Mr. Walton relinquished a career as a key executive with Gulf Oil to return to Pittsburgh in 1967. Shortly after his return, he was appointed President of the Carnegie Institute – today Carnegie Museums and Carnegie Library – a position he held for 17 years.
Through his passion for the arts, Mr. Walton developed deep and personal friendships with the late H.J. ‘Jack’ Heinz II and Vira I. Heinz. They found common ground in their interests and curiosities, and they shared a vision, commitment and keen enthusiasm for Pittsburgh’s future.

Vira Heinz was equally devoted to philanthropic and civic work, and over five decades dedicated herself to her involvement and support of local charitable programs. Vira passed away in March 1983, having expressed her wish that Jim Walton help establish and lead her charitable foundation after her death. Later that year, Mr. Walton joined as a Trustee, and subsequently as Board Chairman of the newly formed Vira I. Heinz Endowment.

The Heinz charitable organizations continued to grow and evolve. Under the leadership of Teresa Heinz, the Howard Heinz Endowment – where she succeeded her late husband, Senator John Heinz as Chairman of the Board – came together with the Vira I. Heinz Endowment to form The Heinz Endowments on January 1, 2007. Mr. Walton was appointed Vice Chairman of the new organization, supporting Mrs. Heinz as Board Chairman, and then her son, André who was elected Chairman in 2016, when Mr. Walton became Vice Chairman Emeritus. 

“Jim Walton was one of Pittsburgh’s great citizens for what he did for this region,” said André Heinz. “His contributions to the richness of life in Pittsburgh and its surrounding communities are exemplified by the institutions he led and to the skill, leadership and resources he brought to them. Beyond all else, we are honored to have worked with Jim, and to have known the genuine person that he was.”

Mr. Walton is survived by his wife, Ellen, their children, Joe, Rachel, Jim and Mary, and seven grandchildren.