People
Written by Adelle M. Banks (RNS) and Gregg Brekke
April - May 2009

Habitat for Humanity founder Millard Fuller dies at 74

Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity whose name is synonymous with volunteer faith-based efforts to build houses for the poor, died suddenly Feb. 3 after a brief illness.

Fuller, 74, had suffered from a chest cold in recent weeks, said Holly Chapman, vice president of communications and development of the Fuller Center for Housing in Americus, Ga.

"He just took a turn for the worse last night," she said.

Fuller founded Habitat for Humanity in 1976 but parted ways with the worldwide organization in 2005 after philosophical differences with Habitat's board and an allegation of inappropriate conduct that Fuller vehemently denied.

After leaving Habitat, Fuller started the Fuller Center for Housing in Americus, Ga., which sought to continue his mission to provide people across the world with decent housing.

"Millard would not want people to mourn his death," said Linda Fuller, co-founder of both Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center, in a statement. "He would be more interested in having people put on a tool belt and build a house for people in need."

Former President Jimmy Carter, a longtime volunteer with Habitat for Humanity who continues to lead a "Jimmy Carter Work Project" with the organization each year, issued a statement calling Millard Fuller "one of the most extraordinary people I have ever known" and commending his roles as founder of both Habitat and the Fuller Center.

"...(H)e was an inspiration to me, other members of our family and an untold number of volunteers who worked side-by-side under his leadership," Carter said.

Fuller became a millionaire by age 29 and developed Habitat for Humanity after giving up all his possessions and moving with his wife to Koinonia Farm, a Christian community near Americus.

The Fullers tested their model of building modest homes with the volunteer labor and "sweat equity" of low-income homeowners in Zaire before creating the organization to construct houses worldwide.

Fuller had a long-standing association with the UCC. The United Church Board for World Ministries partnered with Fuller and his wife during their 1973-1976 house building mission in Africa, prior to the founding of Habitat for Humanity.

"Millard loved working with UCC churches and found great encouragement in their passion for his mission," said Ryan Iafigliola, the Fuller Center's director of student builders and youth programs. "He worked right up to the evening of his death, writing letters and making plans for the future of the ministry."

The author of 10 books, Fuller was recognized with numerous honors for his work, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Chapman, the spokeswoman for the Fuller Center, said the organization will work on a succession plan but plans to "continue the mission of Millard."

"His vision was that every person in every country of the world has a simple decent place to live," she said, "and that continues to be our mission."

Pastoral Changes

Aita, Louis M. to Nuremberg Charge, PA
Anderson, Jim to interim, First Cong. UCC, Eliot, ME
Anderson, Paula N. to interim, United Christian UCC, Campbellsport, WI
Berry, Dawn to Brookside Cong. UCC, Manchester, NH
Besse-Rankin, Paige to Cong. UCC, Goshen, CT
Bryant-Smith, Paul to First Cong. UCC, Norwalk, CT
Buthy, Eva L. to St. Andrew UCC, Mishawaka, IN
Davis, Janice L. to First Cong. UCC, DePere, WI
Dunn, Denis J. to N. Cong. UCC, Buxton, ME
Evans, Anisa to Zion UCC, Henderson, KY
Foss, Peter to interim, South Freeport UCC, South Freeport, ME
Goodstal, Care L. to Cong. UCC, North Haven, CT
Higus, Teresa A. to St. Mark UCC, Terre Haute, IN
Holland, Robert S. to Pilgrim Christian UCC, Chardon, OH
Hutch, Dorothy to First Cong. UCC, East Millinocket, ME
Kolb, Susan to Chaplain, West Bend, WI
Michaelson, Ted S. to First Cong. UCC, Andover, OH
Miller, Dale to Salem UCC, Plymouth, WI
Moeschberger, Karen to St. John's UCC, Allentown, PA
Murphy, Thomas J. to Cong. UCC, South Dennis, MA
Pych, Virginia to retirement
Smith, Gregory K. to Bethel UCC, Elkhart Lake, WI
Steinhard, John B. to St. John's UCC, Bluffton, OH
Tokoph, Brian to St. Paul's UCC, Oshkosh, WI
Tyler, Ross to St. John's (Southport) UCC, Indianapolis, IN
Western, Julie to First UCC, Clay City, IN

Pastoral changes are provided by the UCC's Parish Life and Leadership Ministry.

Clergy Deaths

Anderson, Albert R., 88, 1/5/2009
Andes, William J., 93, 1/26/2009
Bowler, Arthur W., 90, 12/25/2008
Bozell, Wayne, 87, 12/20/2008
Brown, James Good, 107, 12/25/2008
Charlebois, Joseph W., 81, 1/10/2009
Colver, Harry J., 98, 1/26/2009
Daniel, R. Berwyn, 88, 2/17/2009
Dewey, Robert D., 85, 12/29/2008
Eversman, Reuben D., 77, 1/7/2009
Farmer, Clifford G., 82, 1/21/2009
Fray, Harold R., 84, 2/11/2009
Harris, Charles J., 89, 2/4/2009
Hartman, Justin J., 91, 2/6/2009
Hiraga, Benjamin M., 94, 1/16/2009
Hocutt, Aaron Lee, 89, 1/31/2009
Keller, Jules, 85, 1/17/2009
Koehler, Roger L., 89, 1/12/2009
Kurz, A. Vernon, 87, 1/27/2009
Larsen, Roland S., 74, 1/27/1990
Livingston, Robert J., 92, 1/13/2009
Mardis, Arthur L., 85, 1/19/2009
Marston, Robert E., 90, 1/11/2009
McLain, Bernard A., 92, 1/3/2009
Miller, Arthur B., 87, 1/15/2009
Pollard, Goldwin S., 88, 12/1/2008
Rebmann, Edward A., 95, 1/10/2009
Sather, Richard W., 70, 1/30/2009
Turner, C. R., 86, 12/12/2008
Weaver-Hudson, John, 50, 1/27/2009
Westefeldt, George C., 80, 1/12/2009
Zeckhausen, Paul W., 77, 2/25/2009

Clergy death information is provided by The Pension Boards. 

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