Denny's Story

Denny Heck has a track record of getting things done for the people of Washington State. With his experience in the public, private and non-profit sector, Denny is uniquely qualified to serve as the first member of Congress from Washington’s 10th Congressional District.

The Heck FamilyDenny has successfully grown several small businesses in Washington State including Intrepid Learning Solutions and Bruin Development. Denny was also an original investor in Real Networks, the digital entertainment company that pioneered streaming media on the Internet. Denny understands how to create jobs and run a business. Because he spent the last decade building businesses from the ground up, he knows what Congress should do to help local small business owners grow their business and our economy.

A strong advocate of open government, in 1993 Denny co-founded TVW to provide the people of Washington State greater accessibility to their state government. TVW has grown into the nation’s preeminent statewide public affairs network. While at TVW, Denny hosted the award-winning public affairs program Inside Olympia and also won an Emmy for a documentary he wrote and produced.

Denny served his community in the State House of Representatives for nearly a decade. He was chosen by his colleagues to serve as Majority Leader before retiring in 1986. While in the State House, Denny was one of the prime authors of the state’s historic Basic Education Act. After his time in the Legislature, Denny served as Chief of Staff to Governor Booth Gardner during his second term.

Denny is a native Washingtonian and graduated from The Evergreen State College in 1973. Denny has been married for 42 years to Paula Fruci Heck, an educator who began her career as a teacher and retired as principal at Jefferson Middle School in Olympia. Denny and Paula have lived in Olympia for more than 30 years and together they have two sons, Bob and Trey, and a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Kuda.


Paula Heck is Denny’s wife and best friend. Paula, like Denny, is a native Washingtonian. Her mother emigrated from Italy when she was a child and the family settled in Spokane. While Paula was growing up, her mother did bookkeeping at home while raising Paula and her three brothers. Paula’s father, a first generation Italian-American, was a certified public accountant and active in the Spokane business community.

After graduating from Gonzaga University, Paula started her first teaching job at a junior high in the Evergreen school district in Vancouver, teaching English and social studies to 7th and 9th graders. After meeting Denny at a school board meeting, they quickly fell in love and married in 1976.

In 1985, after adopting their first child, Paula and Denny moved to Olympia. Paula became the vice principal and then principal of Olympia’s Jefferson Middle School.  Jefferson’s parents and students knew Paula as a warm, friendly and approachable figure. Paula cared deeply about her students and was always trying to find ways to improve her school.

Paula retired from Jefferson in 2001, but stays plenty busy. She and Denny produced a one-man play in 2008 that raised more than $30,000 for students in the South Sound region. Notably, these funds were the original gift that established the Principals’ Emergency Checkbook Fund in Olympia for low-income students.

Everyone who meets Paula comes away with a virtually identical description: She is funny, strong, and warm, and always with a twinkle in her eye. When time allows, Paula enjoys reading, designing and making baby blankets, and cooking traditional Italian pizzelle.

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