Millard Fuller – Encyclopedia of New Georgia

Millard Fuller and his wife, Linda, founded Habitat for Humanity International in 1976. Now an international organization, Habitat is a Christian ministry that seeks to provide decent housing to those who cannot afford it through traditional means. In 1995, the couple founded the Fuller Center for Housing.

Carrier start

Millard Dean Fuller was born January 3, 1935, near Lanett, Alabama, the only child of a sharecropper. His family was poor, and from an early age Fuller was determined to leave poverty behind and achieve wealth. As a child, he started his own business selling pigs, chickens, rabbits and fish bait. For a short time, Fuller was a minor league baseball pitcher, but his hopes of becoming a great athlete were ended when he injured his arm. He then became a door-to-door salesman, selling stockings and silk underwear, then worked as a waiter while attending the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. His desire for wealth stayed with him as he pursued a college education.

Fuller earned a degree in economics from Auburn University in Alabama in 1957 and later attended law school at the University of Alabama. Expanding his entrepreneurial horizons, Fuller sold Christmas trees and mistletoe with fellow law student Morris Dees, who became Fuller’s partner. (Dees later co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights law firm and educational publisher in Montgomery, Alabama. The center’s first president was Georgian politician and activist Julian Bond.) They began their first lucrative business, a direct mail business, selling imported Italian wreaths to Boy Scouts. The company, named Fuller and Dees Marketing, eventually began selling cookbooks and curios. In 1959 Fuller married Linda Caldwell; the couple had four children: Christopher, Kim, Faith and Georgia.

After completing law school, Fuller began an industrious career as a lawyer while continuing to run the marketing business. Working long hours, Fuller succeeded in 1964 in becoming a millionaire at the age of twenty-nine. However, preoccupation with increasing his wealth led to health and family issues, and Fuller reassessed his priorities. He and his wife, members of the United Church of Christ, decided to simplify their lives by living simply, selling their possessions and focusing on their religion. The Fullers sold their share in the marketing business to Dees for $1 million and donated the proceeds from the sale of their assets to Tougaloo College in Mississippi, a rural Christian community in Sumter County called Koinonia. Farm, and various missionary projects.

habitat seeds

In 1965, as they began their new life, the Fullers visited Al Henry, an old friend and former pastor from Alabama who lived in Koinonia. During the visit, Fuller met Clarence Jordan, the farm’s founder, and the two quickly became close friends. Jordan had established the farm in 1942 as an interracial Christian community, which held the belief that all people are brothers and sisters of God and that people of different races should live side by side in harmony. This concept, however, was unpopular at the time in rural South Georgia.

Fuller and his wife stayed in Koinonia for several months, until he accepted a position at Tougaloo College in early 1966 to set up a development office. The job took him to New York, and Fuller traveled often over the next two years, speaking on behalf of the school as well as the United Church Mission Board. Although their correspondence was erratic, Fuller and Jordan remained connected, and in March 1968 Fuller resigned his post and returned to Koinonia. It was during this period that the two men explored possible ways to accomplish the mission they envisioned – to draw closer to God while uniting all people as partners and ridding the world of racism, poverty and ignorance. As a result, Jordan suggested the creation of the Fund for Humanity, a non-profit organization that would provide funds to build modest houses. The men envisioned a partnership between those who could not afford to own a home and volunteers like them. Interest-free loans would be provided to homeowners, allowing them to make affordable mortgage payments into the fund. That same year, Jordan and Fuller, after re-entering Koinonia Farm as Koinonia Partners, launched the new housing program. Jordan died in 1969.

Years of habitat

From From 1973 to 1976, the Fullers and their four children lived in Zaire, Africa, using the fund concept to build enough housing for 2,000 people. Upon their return to the United States, Fuller established Habitat for Humanity in America. By 2008, the organization had provided more than 250,000 affordable homes to over one million people worldwide. Many volunteers have worked with Habitat over the years, including the U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynnwho together run the Jimmy Carter Work Project, an annual construction “blitz”.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter

In 2004, a dispute arose between Fuller and the board of directors of Habitat for Humanity, after a former Habitat employee made sexual harassment allegations against Fuller. The board ultimately found “insufficient evidence of improper conduct”. In January 2005, after serving as president of Habitat for nearly thirty years, Fuller was removed from his position by the organization over unresolved disputes, including Fuller’s dissatisfaction with the relocation of Habitat’s administrative headquarters. in Atlanta. Later that year, the Fullers founded a new organization, the Fuller Center for Housing, a nonprofit Christian housing mission that develops local partnerships in communities around the world to build new homes and repair old ones. ‘others.

Linda and Millard Fuller

Courtesy of Sumter Shots

Awards and Publications

the Fullers received the Harry S. Truman Public Service Award in 1994 and the Bronze Medal from the Points of Light Foundation in 2002. In addition, Fuller has received numerous awards and honorary doctorates, including the Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award from the King’s Center. the Atlanta Journal-Constitution also named him one of the twenty Georgians who most influenced the 20th century. In October 2005, the Extra Mile Points of Light Volunteer Pathway, an evolving monument in Washington, DC, has been unveiled. The Fullers were among the first twenty honorees depicted on the monument, which commemorates those who have led significant volunteer efforts for the nation.

Extra Mile Trail Marker
Extra Mile Trail Marker

Courtesy of Points of Light

Fuller has written nine books, including Bokotola (1977)Love in mortar joints (1980), More cabins! (1986), hammer theology (1994), A simple and decent place to live (1995), More than houses (2000), Building Materials for Life, Vol. I (2002), and Building Materials for Life, Vol. II (2003). He and his wife co-wrote The excitement is rising (1990).

Fuller died, aged seventy-four, in an ambulance traveling from Americas to Albany on February 3, 2009. He was buried in Koinonia.

Millard and Linda Fuller’s papers are held at the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library at the University of Georgia.

Comments are closed.