Virginia Galvin Piper

virginia piper

Philanthropy and Vision

In life and legacy, Virginia Galvin Piper stands as one of the most respected and influential philanthropists in Arizona. With selflessness and love of people and community, she approached charitable giving with intelligence and a noble heart, and the stewardship of her vision has transformed the Valley.

The wife of Motorola founder Paul V. Galvin, Virginia Galvin Piper sought to follow her husband’s philanthropic example by establishing a charitable legacy of her own. “For me,” she wrote, “managing the stewardship of charitable giving is a moment-to-moment dignified responsibility…”

For the last three decades of her life Mrs. Piper lived in Paradise Valley, Arizona, where she moved from Chicago with her second husband, Kenneth M. Piper. During that time she worked quietly and steadily at strengthening Phoenix-area nonprofits.

Mrs. Piper established the Trust in 1995 and appointed four lifetime trustees to oversee the work of the foundation. Upon settlement of her estate in 2000, the Trust received approximately $600 million making it one of the nation’s 100 largest foundations.

Reflecting Virginia Piper’s own philanthropy, Piper Trust uses six core program areas to focus the foundation’s efforts: arts and culture, children, education, healthcare and medical research, older adults, and religious organizations.


The Legacy of Virginia Galvin Piper

By Melissia Pritchard

With exceptional intelligence and grace, Virginia Galvin Piper committed herself to the challenge, reward and vocation of philanthropy, transforming the gift of a single life into an enduring humanitarian legacy. With profound generosity, she led others to realize and to act upon the greatness and charity within themselves.

Born on December 7, 1911, in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Virginia Critchfield’s exposure to solid Midwestern values laid the foundation for an intellectually vibrant personality, creatively gifted and genuinely interested in others. Although her philanthropic career began under the tutelage of her first husband, Paul V. Galvin, founder of Motorola, Virginia actively, and in her own right, rose to the responsibilities of stewardship. Following Paul Galvin’s death in 1959, Virginia chose to retain her philanthropic duties, expanding her charitable commitments even further.

Upon moving to Paradise Valley in 1972, a place she and Paul frequently visited during his lifetime, she sought ways to benefit her newly adopted state. Although she eventually remarried, her husband Kenneth M. Piper, Vice President of Motorola, died suddenly in 1975 after only a few short years of marriage. For the remaining 24 years of her life, Virginia worked with matchless dedication, demonstrating a spirited passion for honest, unpretentious service. She actively visited sites, met with board members, asked astute questions, made informed decisions and managed a remarkably gracious, handwritten correspondence with countless individuals and organizations she helped to support.

Devotion to her Catholic faith, along with her own deeply principled, innately modest character, led to Virginia’s ever-expanding support of education, the arts, healthcare and medical research, the diverse needs of children and older adults, and religious institutions. Virtually no phase of human life was left untouched by her compassionate stewardship.

No one who had the privilege of knowing Virginia ever forgot her. She was smart, funny, elegant, quietly devoted to her faith and, by extension, to the greater life of humanity. She loved gaiety, music and parties, yet worked ceaselessly and with quiet authority on countless charitable projects. Virginia wore her own life lightly so that she could better clothe others in the fabric of their dreams, ideals and goals. Her interior life, rich with faith and faith’s humility, led to an outward life of deeply engaged, uplifting and humane service to others.

Through the establishment of The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust and the dedicated work of its trustees, Virginia’s legacy thrives, illumined by her signature spirit of intelligent stewardship graced by a noble heart.

Read the complete biography, Devotedly, Virginia: The Life of Virginia Galvin Piper, which compiles over 100 interviews with people who knew Mrs. Piper.