Virginia Galvin Piper  (b. 1911, d. 1999)
Virginia Galvin Piper   Piper Writers House, Arizona State University
Virginia Galvin Piper dedicated her life to philanthropic work in her native Illinois and in her adopted state of Arizona. A wide variety of organizations have benefited from her trusts, including Catholic charities, hospitals, schools and civic centers.

Region: Phoenix and Central Arizona
Theme: Women and Community Building

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 Galvin Piper.

Photo Credits:
Virginia Galvin Piper photos - Courtesy of the Piper Charitable Trust
Piper Writers House - Courtesy of the Piper Writers House, ASU


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