Millard Fuller, the visionary Christian with a single-minded, some say stubborn, focus that resulted in more than 300,000 houses built for the poor, died unexpectedly Monday night, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
the visionary Christian with a single-minded, some say stubborn, focus that
resulted in more than 300,000 houses built for the poor, died unexpectedly
Monday night, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Fuller, 74, was
the driving force in founding Habitat for Humanity in 1976, a nonprofit that
started in little Americus, Ga., but whose name is known around the world.
After a rancorous split from the organization in 2005, he founded a new
organization, the Fuller Center for Housing in Americus, which was doing the same work.
founded Habitat for Humanity.
He had been sick
in recent days with chest congestion, said Holly Chapman, a spokeswoman for the
based in Americus.
Jackie Goodman of
Atlanta, who volunteered with Habitat and the Fuller Center,
said Fuller was well enough to participate Monday in a conference call with
affiliates of the Fuller
He got worse
Monday night. His wife Linda told the Associated Press he was complaining of
chest pains, headache and difficulty swallowing. He died in an ambulance that
was taking him to a hospital Albany,
“We are all
deeply saddened and in a state of shock,” she said.
recent illness, Fuller was vigorous and kept a busy schedule and had recently
visited El Salvador.
Chapman said, “He
was quite irritated that he had been sick lately, because he had never been
sick a day in his life.”
Humanity and the Fuller Center build houses for the poor in the U.S.
and around the world. The families who live in the houses must help build them
alongside volunteers, and they must pay back a no-interest loan that makes the
volunteers from across America,
from blue collar workers to former presidents such as Jimmy Carter and Bill
Clinton, from back-porch pickers to recording stars, all joining to nail
shingles or drywall.
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
Kent Watkins, who
helps head up missions programs at Saint James United Methodist Church in Atlanta, said Fuller’s
work not only changes the lives of those who live in Habitat and Fuller houses,
but also the lives of volunteers.
“People go down
on a project thinking they are going down to help somebody,” he said. “They
come back changed by the experience.”
They become more
giving, and volunteers rarely stop at helping build one house, he said.
his new organization after splitting with Habitat, whose board fired him in
2005 for making “divisive” and “disruptive” comments.
He was not
pleased with Habitat’s move to downtown Atlanta
and the more bureaucratic approach of the new leadership, said Morris Dees, a
college buddy and former law and business partner with Fuller in their early
years. Dees founded the Southern Poverty Law
Center, a civil rights organization. The two had become wealthy together before
Fuller gave it up for what Dees called “his
The Habitat board
also investigated Fuller for sexual harassment but found “insufficient proof of
Fuller put that chapter behind him and moved on, founding the Fuller Center
to do homebuilding according to his own vision.
“I think the more
than 1 million people who live in homes built under Millard will say he was a
giant of a man who changed their lives.”
Reckford, the chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International,
said in a press release, “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. The entire Habitat family
mourns the loss of our founder, a true giant in the affordable housing