Services For Philanthropist, BU Benefactor Paul Piper To Be Held Wednesday

Jan. 20, 2004

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Services for Paul Piper, philanthropist, entrepreneur, businessman and Baylor University benefactor, will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 21, at Memphis Funeral Home, 5599 Poplar Ave., in Memphis, Tenn. Piper, 86, died Saturday, Jan. 17, in Brandon, Fla., after a lengthy illness.

"Paul Piper's life embodied the essence of Christian stewardship," said Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. "His generosity benefited many Christian causes around the world, including Baylor University, and we are profoundly grateful. He met the needs of countless students through interest-free loans and was among the first to step forward with financial support for Truett Seminary, which is commemorated through the Piper Great Hall on the seminary's new campus. His life of service has been a testimony to us at Baylor and continues to stimulate and motivate each of us as we strive to be more faithful stewards of God's goodness and grace."

Piper was born Aug. 9, 1917, to Frank and Maud Piper of Piperton, Tenn. In 1937, at age 20, he established a John Deere dealership, beginning his entrepreneurial business career. He married Mary Kerr "Katy" Johnston in 1938, and Katy's energy and independence matched Paul's with her involvement as a vital partner in what was to become Piper Industries.

In 1952, the Pipers established the Christ Is Our Salvation (CIOS) Foundation and added the Christian Mission Concerns Foundation in 1984. The CMC Foundation provided the facility for Baylor's Piper Center for Family Studies and Child Development, which is used as a laboratory for Baylor education students.

"Paul Piper was truly a servant of God," said Pam Wilder, director of the Piper Center. "He had a special interest in seeing that young children with disabilities are included in programs with their typically developing peers. That was his original purpose when he began the child development center at Christian Mission Concerns in Waco, which later became Baylor's Piper Center. We are planning a new mother's day out program with the School of Social Work that will enroll typically developing toddlers with those with disabilities and will include a parent education component. We are so appreciative of all Mr. Piper has done for us and for all children and will continue to carry out his vision in the future."

Through the years, the Pipers have supported numerous ministries and mission projects, student scholarships, housing for low-income families, day care centers, a Christian camp, medical facilities, colleges and universities, and theological seminaries, and partnered with state Baptist conventions to start and build hundreds of new churches.

Piper was preceded in death by his son, Ronald Kerr Piper. He is survived by his wife, Katy; son, Paul P. Piper Jr. and wife, Shirley; sister, Elizabeth Sammons; grandchildren, Polly Rickard and husband, Rob, Jill Lawrence and husband, Jim, Lynn Piper, Ronald Kerr Piper Jr., Annette Sandstrom, and Paul Gordon Piper and wife, Kelli; great-granchildren, Piper Rickard, Robert Rickard, Perry Rickard, Peyton Rickard, Jennifer Lawrence, Sydney Piper, Mason Piper, Alexandra Sandstrom, Abigale Sandstrom; and nephew, Bob Sammons.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to CIOS, P.O. Box 20815, Waco, TX 76702.

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