After 57 years in the telephone industry, Mrs. Billie Pirnie continues to oversee the company her husband started over a half a century ago. Her commitment to her community, as well as her eye for business and philanthropic endeavors, makes her a stand out role model in her home of Montgomery, Alabama.
Mrs. Billie Pirnie met her husband, Bob, while attending high school in Kansas City; they played in the orchestra together—he the violin, and she the trumpet. They married in 1944 and had two sons together. As a child, Bob Pirnie dreamed of two things: to become a pilot and to own a business. After serving in WWII as a captain flying a B-25 Mitchell light bomber, Mr. Pirnie returned to Alabama and purchased the Union Springs Telephone Company —virtually an obsolete phone system with only 325 magneto wall telephones. He had purchased an opportunity, but also a challenge, and he was proud of the company that gave him the freedom to dream and explore opportunities.
Mr. Pirnie had an entrepreneurial spirit that led his business to become one of the first independent companies to provide services over fiber optic cable. When the company needed an advertising executive, he turned to his wife and said “you’re it, ” and Mrs. Pirnie proved her worth by getting the highest response rate ever. After her husband passed away in 1991, Mrs. Pirnie took over the company. She did not hesitate, for after working many years by her husband’s side, she knew what needed to be done. At 85 years old, she still loves the challenge of going to the office every day and working in an industry that is constantly changing.
She took an interest in The Fund for American Studies because she was impressed by the quality of the lecturers who speak to The Fund’s students. She is concerned that “young people do not understand our government and don’t want to” and believes that The Fund provides an important service to the country by educating our future leaders.
Earlier this year, Mrs. Pirnie established a charitable gift annuity with The Fund. Through this, The Fund provides her with a quarterly income payment that will allow her to continue to take care of herself indefinitely. By establishing a charitable gift annuity with The Fund, she receives a lifetime income stream with a 9.5% return, a charitable deduction, and estate tax savings. She is making the difference because, upon her passing, the remaining balance in the annuity account will be put directly toward educating more students on the importance of American values and principles.