Pigford was the son of Joseph and Jeanne Ireland Pigford. He served in the U.S. Navy, aboard the U.S.S. Everglades, from 1968 to 1979 and then enrolled in the architecture program at Auburn University, graduating in 1974.
Pigford served on a number of nonprofit boards, including the Cahaba River Society, Create Birmingham, Region 2020, the Kingston Coalition, and the Alabama Architectural Foundation. He also served on advisory boards for the Auburn University School of Architecture and Birmingham-Southern College's Hess Center for Leadership.
- "Richard Ireland Pigford" obituary (April 5, 2019) The Birmingham News