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Virginia G. Piper: A Dedicated Life

Produced in 2010 for Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust’s 10th Anniversary

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The Legacy of Virginia Galvin Piper


By Melissa 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