Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Co-founder of Habitat for Humanity, Millard Fuller passes away

A leader of one of our favorite charities passed away today at the age of 74. Millard Fuller was the co-founder of Habitat for Humanity.

Fuller died around 3 am this morning after being taken to a hospital emergency room. He complained to his wife that he was having chest pains.

In this Associated Press story that we found at MSNBC, former President Jimmy Carter gave his condolences. The snippet also contains the story of the origins of Habitat for Humanity.

One of Habitat's highest-profile volunteers, former President Jimmy Carter, called Fuller "one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known.

"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," Carter said in a statement. "As the founder of Habitat for Humanity and later the Fuller Center, he was an inspiration to me, other members of our family and an untold number of volunteers who worked side-by-side under his leadership."

After running Habitat for Humanity with his wife for nearly three decades, Fuller lost control of the charity in a conflict with its board. When ousted in January 2005, he and his wife vowed to continue working on housing the poor and started The Fuller Center for Housing to raise money for Habitat affiliates.

The son of a widower farmer in the cotton-mill town of Lanett, Ala., Fuller earned his first profit at age 6, selling a pig. While studying law at the University of Alabama, he formed a direct-marketing company with Morris Dees — later founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center — focusing on selling cookbooks and candy to high school chapters of the Future Homemakers of America. That business would make them millionaires before they were 30.

When Fuller's capitalist drive threatened to kill his marriage, Fuller and his wife, who wed in college, decided to sell everything and devote themselves to the Christian values they grew up with.

"I gave away about $1 million," Fuller said in a 2004 interview with The Associated Press. "I wasn't a multimillionaire; I was a poor millionaire."

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