Habitat founder diesby Kevin Butler
By Bob Allen
Associated Baptist Press
AMERICUS, Ga. (ABP) -- Millard Fuller, a millionaire entrepreneur who gave away his fortune to create Habitat for Humanity International in 1976, died Feb. 3 after a brief illness.
Fuller, 74, led the worldwide house-building ministry with his wife, Linda, for 29 years before both were fired in January 2005 following several months of conflict with their board of directors. Afterward Fuller formed a new organization, the Fuller Center for Housing.
"Millard Fuller was a force of nature who turned a simple idea into an international organization that has helped more than 300,000 families move from deplorable housing into simple, decent homes they helped build and can afford to buy and live in," Jonathan Reckford, Habitat's chief executive officer, said in a statement. "The entire Habitat family mourns the loss of our founder, a true giant in the affordable-housing movement."
Members of Fuller's family said they were "truly overwhelmed" with expressions of love and support for his work and urged people to honor his legacy by donating to the Fuller Center or volunteering with a local partner of either organization.
Visitation was scheduled Feb. 3 at First Presbyterian Church in Americus, Ga. Burial will be at Koinonia Farm, an interracial Christian farming community the Fullers joined in 1965.
Wealthy at age 29 as an entrepreneur and lawyer but with his marriage in a shambles, Fuller and his wife decided to begin anew, selling all they owned and giving it to the poor.
Under the tutelage of Koinonia founder Clarence Jordan, Fuller developed the idea of "partnership housing," building homes with rural neighbors too poor to afford conventional loans. Since then thousands of people have volunteered with Habitat, the most famous being former President Jimmy Carter.
"Millard Fuller was one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known," Carter said in a statement. "He used his remarkable gifts as an entrepreneur for the benefit of millions of needy people around the world by providing them with decent housing."
Fuller's Feb. 4 funeral is open to the public. The family plans a memorial service for later in the month.