Born: United States of America
Primarily active in: United States of America
Vivian Piasecki was an impactful philanthropist, humanitarian and civic leader for more than six decades in the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, region, and was the matriarch of the Piasecki family.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, on Oct. 20, 1930, to a prominent and industrious midwestern family, Vivian Weyerhaeuser was the oldest child of Frederick King Weyerhaeuser and Vivian O’Gara. She graduated from Miss Porter’s school in 1948 and enrolled first at Sara Lawrence College, later graduating from Vassar College in 1952. Following college, she launched a lifetime commitment to politics by joining the 1952 election campaign of Dwight D. Eisenhower for President. Always pragmatic and principled, she supported candidates from both political parties over time.
In 1958, she married helicopter pioneer Frank N. Piasecki (1919–2008), whose tandem helicopter design revolutionized the industry and eventually formed what’s now Boeing Vertical Lift. The Piasecki Aircraft Corporation continues to be one of the leading vertical flight engineering/research and development companies in America today. Together, Vivian and Frank raised seven children, all of whom have pursued rich careers in the world of aerospace, business and the creative arts.
In Philadelphia, she devoted her life to making the city a better place — one that could meet the growing visible and invisible needs of its citizens. She took joy in building and revitalizing Philadelphia’s arts organizations, museums, educational and medical institutions, social service ventures, as well as its public radio and TV. She was known for her highly effective management style, thoughtful curiosity, wisdom and love of humanity.
She was among the first female board members on a number of local and national corporations, and was appointed the Chair of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission at the request of Governor Dick Thornburg in 1980.
Through her work on boards and in her efforts as a civic leader, she touched thousands of people, many of whom privately sought her advice and counsel when public efforts stalled. She was a-behind-the-scenes fundraiser and consensus builder, who rarely accepted the spotlight, but always brought her projects to closure with an added measure of wit and wisdom. Her leadership shaped the destinies of the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Franklin Institute of Science, the National Constitution Center, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, the Smithsonian Institution and radio station WHYY.
Vivian Weyerhaeuser Piasecki, 92, of Haverford, Pennsylvania, passed away on July 10, 2023.
Society Update: Vertiflite September/October 2023