Millard Fuller, who with his wife, Linda, co-founded and led Habitat for Humanity International from 1976 until 2005, died early in the morning on Feb. 3, 2009. Preliminary reports show he died of a heart attack. Fuller was 74 years old.
Fuller was an active and committed advocate for decent, affordable housing for low-income families, helping begin a "partnership housing" program in 1969 with theologian Clarence Jordan. The program eventually became Habitat for Humanity International. Over 29 years, Fuller's leadership helped grow Habitat into a worldwide housing ministry with 200,000 homes built in 100 countries, sheltering more than 500,000 people.
"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," said Jonathan Reckford, Habitat's CEO, in a statement on Fuller's death.
In 2007, Habitat was named to BUILDER magazine's BUILDER 100 list, and for his work with the organization the magazine recognized Fuller in its January 2009 issue as one of the most important innovators in residential construction in the past 30 years (Read "Impact Players" in the January 2009 issue of BUILDER, page 158.) Ten years earlier, the magazine had named Fuller one of the 100 most influential people in U.S. home building.
In 1996, Fuller received the highest civilian honor in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from former President Bill Clinton, who said, "Millard Fuller has done as much to make the dream of homeownership a reality in our country and throughout the world as any living person." That year he also was named to the National Association of Home Builders' National Housing Hall of Fame.
After parting ways with Habitat in 2005, the Fullers co-founded The Fuller Center for Housing in Americus, Ga., a nonprofit, faith-based volunteer organization dedicated to eliminating poverty housing nationally and internationally. In a statement posted on the organization's Web site, staff said of Millard Fuller, "Every breath he drew was utilized to improve the quality of life of those who are unfortunate enough to live in the worst of places."
During his lifetime Fuller received numerous awards and honors, as well as 52 honorary doctoral degrees. He also authored 10 books on topics including affordable housing, building methods, and building materials. Fuller's funeral, held at Koinonia Farm in Americus, on Feb. 4 at 11 a.m., was open to the public. A memorial service will be held later in the month, according to The Fuller Center's announcement.
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