Millard Fuller, Co-Founder of Habitat for Humanity, Dies
ATLANTA (AP) — Millard Fuller, the millionaire entrepreneur who gave it all away to help found the Christian house-building charity Habitat for Humanity, died Tuesday. He was 74.
Fuller died about 3 a.m. after being taken to a hospital emergency room, according to his wife, Linda. The cause of death was not immediately known.
Linda Fuller, in a telephone interview from the couple's home in Americus, said her husband was complaining of chest pains, headache and difficulty swallowing.
The couple was to have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in August with a 100-house "blitz build" across the globe, she said.
"We'll probably go ahead with the 'blitz build.' Millard would not want people to mourn his death," she said. "He would be more interested in having people put on a tool belt and build a house for people in need."
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.