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A legacy of philanthropy and service
During the latter half of the 20th century, Virginia G. Piper was one of the most recognized and well-respected philanthropists in the Southwest.
Virginia began her philanthropic career under the tutelage of her first husband Paul Galvin, a co-founder of Motorola and inventor of the car radio. Following Paul's death of leukemia in 1959, she dedicated the rest of her life to continuing his philanthropy and managing his estate, eventually establishing the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust in 1995.
Today, the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust is the largest private foundation in Arizona, enriching and improving the lives of people across Maricopa County through arts and culture, healthcare, education, and more.
By proudly carrying Virginia's name, the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing serves to create a daily reminder of Virginia's life, values, and impact of giving. Every day, we strive to live up to her vision with humility, honor, sound judgment, and heart, finding opportunities in our own lives for doing the most good.
To learn more about about Virginia G. Piper, keep reading. You can also read Virginia's biography, learn more about the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, or give to the Center.
The following materials are excerpted from Devotedly, Virginia: The Life of Virginia Galvin Piper, written by Melissa Pritchard and published by The Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust in 2008.
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.