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US philanthropist Drue Heinz dies in Scotland aged 103

The widow of the former head of the H.J. Heinz Company died peacefully in Midlothian on Friday.

By STV News

Published 30 Mar 2018.

Drue Heinz, a philanthropist and supporter of the literary and visual arts, has died in Scotland at the age of 103.

Mrs Heinz, the widow of the former head of the H.J. Heinz Company, died peacefully at Lasswade, Midlothian, on Friday.

The announcement was made by her family in a posting on The Heinz Endowments website.

Born in England in 1915, during the First World War, Mrs Heinz went on to become widely respected in the US and Britain for her generous support of the arts and she took a particular interest in Anglo-American literature, the statement said.

In the UK, she was a trustee of the Royal Academy of Arts and a founding council member of the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford.

According to the statement, she endowed the Drue Heinz Chair in American Literature at St John's College, Oxford, and as a member of the London Library, she created an endowment there to develop its literary collections.

In 1983, she founded the Hawthornden Literary Retreat, overlooking Roslin Glen in Midlothian, as an international retreat for writers.

In 1995, Mrs Heinz was named an Honorary Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Seven years later, she was elected as an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

In the US, she endowed the Drue Heinz Literature Prize at the University of Pittsburgh, a national prize which has provided for publication of a collection of short stories every year since 1980.

In 1971 she co-founded Ecco Press, which published Antaeus magazine and republished many out-of-print books of outstanding literary merit.

She also served as publisher of The Paris Review from 1993 until her retirement in 2008.

Mrs Heinz was also an active board member of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the MacDowell Colony, the Pierpont Morgan Library, the American Academy in Rome and served on the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art.

She was the widow of H.J. Heinz II, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who served as CEO of the family company founded by his grandfather.

Former UK arts minister Lord Gowrie said in the statement: "At the age of 100 and over, she still attended talks and readings at the summer Edinburgh (International) Book Festival and ferried authors to and from Hawthornden for her annual lobster supper in style.

"Modest, even frugal, in her own tastes, she was the most generous hostess imaginable.

"She was the tireless and demanding chief executive of her own giving and a funny, unforgettable, erudite woman."