February 23, 2023

Don Roger Pippin, 84, passed away on December 6, 2022, in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife and son by his side.

Don lived a full and vibrant life. He was born on Halloween day, 1938, in Coeburn, Virginia to Hallie Earl and Wanda Mae Pippin. He was a lifelong resident of Wise County and the City of Norton before moving to Charlottesville in 2020. He graduated from Coeburn High School in 1956, Clinch Valley College of the University of Virginia in 1958, the University of Virginia in 1960, and the University of Virginia School of Law in 1963. He was extremely devoted to the University of Virginia and its College at Wise, and to the cause of higher education in Southwest Virginia, especially for first-generation college students.

In college and law school, Don was active in literary and debating circles, including the Jefferson Society. He received acclaim for his poetry and won a National Poetry Prize in 1960. In law school, he received the honor of an assistantship to Professor T. Munford Boyd, who later became Of Counsel to the Pippin Law Firm.

Don practiced law for over 50 years, first with Greear, Bowen, Mullins, Winston, Pippin & Sturgill, then as a solo practitioner at the Pippin Law Firm, and later with his brother Joe at the law firm of Pippin and Pippin. He was known as a well-prepared trial lawyer and faithful adviser to many local businesses, including Fraley’s, Inc., Humphreys Enterprises, Inc., Paramont Land Company, Ambrose Branch Coal Company, Payless Supermarkets, Funk Drilling Company, Virginia Supply Company, Lay’s Hardware, Friendship Home Health, Norton Community Hospital, Farmers Exchange Bank, Peoples Bank of Pound, First State Bank of Wise, and the Virginia Department of Transportation. He served as town attorney for the Town of Wise and city attorney for the City of Norton. He served as a member of the Norton City School Board. He was a founder of the nursing home that became Heritage Hall in Wise.

In 2002, he was appointed by Governor Mark Warner to the University of Virginia Board of Visitors, and reappointed in 2006 by Governor Tim Kaine. While on the Board, he was chair of the Committee on The University of Virginia's College at Wise.

His service to UVA Wise spanned decades. He enrolled at the College during its third year of existence and made an impassioned plea before the General Assembly that resulted in funding for the Fred B. Greear Gymnasium. In the summers of 1960 and 1961, he served as Acting Dean of the Southwest Center for UVA Extension and General Studies. He became a founding member and later president of the Alumni Association Board. He was a member of UVA Wise’s College Board for 20 years. He served on the UVA Wise Foundation Board. In 1999, he led the effort before the General Assembly to change the College’s name to UVA Wise; his passionate remarks and key relationships were critical in garnering the legislature’s support for the name change. He was honored as the College's Volunteer of the Year that same year. In 2022, UVA Wise named the building that will house the nursing education program Don R. Pippin & John C. Wyllie Hall.

Don served his country and Virginia in the Virginia National Guard, where he met Jerry Fraley of East Stone Gap, who became his lifelong friend.

He was a longtime member of the Wise Kiwanis Club. He joined the club in May 1989 and served as its president for two years. Don loved the fellowship of the Club in its meetings and community projects, and always led the effort to invite new members to its ranks. Don received the 25-year Legion of Honor pin and certificate from Kiwanis International and was a member of the Wise Kiwanis Club for 33 years.

Don was a member of Wise Baptist Church, where he served as Deacon, worship greeter, and member of the finance committee. In 2001, Don gave the initial gift that served as seed money for a new Wise Baptist Church building, which was completed and dedicated in 2004. He helped his wife, "Ms. Gigi," in the programs of her Sunbeam (kindergarten through third grade) choir as sound engineer and character actor. He was lovingly called "Mr. Don" by the Sunbeams. Most recently, the Pippins attended Gladeville Presbyterian Church in Wise, where they were active in Bible study classes and supportive of the church’s projects and programs.

He was an avid animal lover, particularly of dogs and deer.

Don is survived by his wife Gloria (“Gigi”) of Charlottesville, son Scott and daughter-in-law Kathy of Falls Church, grandsons Daniel and David of Falls Church, and brother Joe of Abingdon.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, April 15, 2023, at 2 p.m. in the David J. Prior Convocation Center at UVA Wise.

Memorial contributions may be made in support of the Hallie and Wanda Pippin Scholarship. Contributions should be addressed to the UVA Wise Foundation, Attn: Valerie Lawson, 1 College Ave., Wise, VA 24293. Gifts may also be made online at, select the “In Memory Of” option.