|Virginia Critchfield was born in Illinois, attended high school, and
worked as an office manager for a doctor's office for many years
before her marriage to Paul V. Galvin in 1945. Paul Galvin figured out
how to sell radios installed in cars and became a founder of Motorola.
Reportedly, the word Motorola came to him one morning as he was
shaving. It seemed to suggest motion and radio. In 1949, when Motorola
was building its first research and development facility on North
Central Avenue, the couple started to visit Phoenix during the
winters. They became winter visitors, staying at the Camelback Inn.
When Paul died in 1959, Virginia was left in charge of the Paul V.
Galvin Charitable Trust. Before he died, he had advised Virginia to
turn the trust over to a professional management team but she decided
to run it herself, thus launching her 40-year career in philanthropy.
Virginia had converted to Catholicism after her marriage, and the
church would become a primary beneficiary of her donations in the
years to come. Initially Virginia lived primarily in Illinois but
visited Phoenix often. Her contributions went to institutions in both
states, including the 1967 expansion of the Franciscan Renewal Center
at 5802 E. Lincoln Drive in Scottsdale. She participated in the
dedication of the Galvin Parkway in Phoenix, honoring her late
husband, in the mid 1960s. Virginia remarried in 1969 to Kenneth
Piper, a vice president at Motorola. The couple became full-time
residents of Paradise Valley in 1972 and concentrated their charitable
giving in the Phoenix area. When the Galvin Trust expired, she gave it
her own name and, since her death in 1999, it has been called the
Piper Charitable Trust.
The organizations that have benefited from her generosity over the
years are too numerous to list, but a sampling would include the
Phoenix Symphony, the Galvin Playhouse and the Virginia G. Piper
Center for Creative Writing (both on Arizona State University's Tempe
campus), the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, and the Boys
and Girls Clubs of Arizona.
As her biographer, Melissa Pritchard, said, "She would not be known as
the woman who had married well, and blithely signed checks for various
causes. Virginia intently examined each project, charted its progress,
gauged its leadership trajectory, and attended related functions. Her
gifts, large and small, public and private, from the earliest years
were accompanied by high standards, firm expectations, and an eye
toward longevity and integrity of mission."
For further information, see Melissa Pritchard, Devotedly, Virginia
Virginia Galvin Piper photos - Courtesy of the Piper Charitable Trust
Piper Writers House - Courtesy of the Piper Writers House, ASU