APOLLO BEACH, Fla. (ABP) — Longtime philanthropist Paul Piper Sr., whose generosity provided funds for education and research to many organizations, including Baptist ones, died Jan 17 in Apollo Beach, Fla. He was 86.
A self-made businessman, the Tennessee native was known for his charitable contributions to Christian causes, particularly colleges and college students.
After dropping out of college in 1937, he borrowed $17 from his parents and built his own diversified company with 1,000 employees in 15 manufacturing plants. Piper later sold his shares in Piper Industries and used the money to begin four charitable foundations — Christ Is Our Salvation and three branches of Christian Mission Concerns.
In 1999 Piper donated his East Memphis house to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, which auctioned it for $400,000. The contents included his collection of 150 toy train sets.
“I don't know of an individual that has been as generous to people, throughout this community and this country, in need,” said former Memphis mayor Dick Hackettt in a Memphis obituary.
Piper's inspiration and financial support provided funds for “literally thousands of college students at several dozen universities” through the years, according to Samford University President Thomas Corts in a news release. The Children's Learning Center at Samford was made possible through his giving.
Piper is survived by his wife, Katy, one son, a sister, six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.