Obituary: S. Donald Wiley / Led Heinz's in-house legal department

Dec. 4, 1926 - Aug. 7, 2013

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

During a nearly 30-year career as an in-house attorney for H.J. Heinz Co., S. Donald Wiley never allowed international business to keep him from his loved ones.

If anything, he viewed the trips as an opportunity to show Heinz to the world and to show the world to his wife, Josephine. According to his son, Michael, he encouraged employees working under him to view the trips the same way.

"He always told the younger executives to take an extra couple days here to make sure you see things. He wanted them to experience the world and not just focus on work," he said.

Mr. Wiley, a resident at Longwood at Oakmont, died Wednesday due to sudden illness. He was 86.

Born to Irish immigrants who made Wilkinsburg their home in the 1920s, Mr. Wiley spent his childhood in the neighborhood before attending Westminster College, where he sparked a bond with Josephine that ended up lasting 61 years. After graduating from Westminster, he served in the Army Air Corps before deciding to go to law school at the University of Pennsylvania.

Mr. Wiley started his career as an assistant district attorney in Allegheny County before joining a small team of attorneys at Heinz in 1956.

By the time he was appointed senior vice president, he had grown the minute in-house legal department several times over and had become an invaluable sounding board for company executives, said son Kevin.

"He was a low man on the totem pole of a three-man law department and he rose the ranks to become general counsel. He built up their in-house law department so [Heinz] didn't have to use outside counsel as much," he said.

Barbara Wofford, who worked as Mr. Wiley's secretary for 27 years, said he was instrumental in helping the company as it underwent major acquisitions, but nhe ever asked for credit.

"He really was a very humble man," she said. "He had character and integrity and was very trustworthy and confident, but he was also very private."

Upon his retirement in 1990, Mr. Wiley maintained strong ties with Heinz by serving as an outside director on its board until 2000; serving as vice chairman of the board of the H.J. Heinz Co. Foundation; and by working with the Vira I. Heinz Endowment and the Heinz Family Foundation.

Outside of Heinz, he was an active volunteer with Carnegie Mellon University, Shadyside Hospital Foundation, QED Communications and was chairman of the board of trustees for Westminster College.

A longtime sportsman, Mr. Wiley was a founding member of the Fox Chapel Racquet Club, a member of the Fox Chapel Golf Club, the Rolling Rock Club and the Duquesne Club.

Beyond business and community commitments, Mr. Wiley was committed to enjoying life with his entire family, said Michael and Kevin.

Kevin recalled a childhood trip in an RV from Pittsburgh to Yellowstone National Park while Michael mentioned an extended-family trip to Ireland as highlights.

And while Mr. Wiley won't be around to organize the next family trip himself, his larger-than-life essence will remain a part of the adventure regardless of where they land.

"He had a big presence. People called him 'Big Don' even though he wasn't a big guy. He called the shots," Michael said.

In addition to sons Michael and Kevin, both of Fox Chapel, he is survived by son Sam Wiley, of Middletown, R.I.; six grandchildren; and one foster grandchild.

Visitation services for Mr. Wiley will take place from 4-8 p.m. today at Weddell-Ajax Funeral Home in Aspinwall. A funeral service will take place at 2 p.m. Sunday Christ Church Fox Chapel.

The family is requesting guests send donations to Westminster College or to the American Ireland Fund.

obituaries - legalnews - neigh_east

Deborah M. Todd: or 412-263-1652.


Create a free PG account.
Already have an account?