World Famous Philanthropist Remembered Locally

By Lindsey Connell - bio | e-mail

AMERICUS, GA (WTVM) -  For employees at the Fuller Center for Housing in Americus, today was anything but a normal work day. They are grieving the loss of their founder Millard Fuller. The seventy-four-year-old philanthropist passed away this morning after a brief illness.

"Providing a home for a child who doesn't have a decent place to live was his passion. Making a difference was his passion. He had been ill for about three weeks- coughing, congestion and he had been going back and forth to the doctor," said Sharon Tarver, Fuller's Executive Assistant.

Fuller was originally from Lanett, Alabama but called Americus home.

He co-founded Habitat for Humanity, the international Christian house-building charity, back in 1976 giving people around the world a place to call home.

Disagreements over how to move the organization caused him to split from the organization and in 2005, he founded the Fuller Center for Housing to continue his passion for providing affordable housing.

Through the years, his work earned him many awards, including a 1996 Presidential Medal of Freedom from Bill Clinton, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Those who knew him best say his love for his life's work was infectious.

"You don't always remember what someone says to you but you remember the way they make you feel and I'll always remember that Millard makes everyone feel like a million bucks, makes everyone feel like they can go and make a difference in the world, that they can change the world and that they can help those in need," said Ryan Iafigliola with the Fuller Center for Housing.

And his coworkers say even though his office is empty, his legacy will live on.

"We are going to grieve and mourn the loss of our friend and our leader but we also know that we're looking ahead to brighter and bigger things to come and that's exactly how he'd want it," Iafigliola added.

Visitation is tonight from 6 to 8 PM at the First Presbyterian Church in Americus.

Fuller's funeral is at 11 AM tomorrow morning at Koinonia Farm on GA Highway 49 South in Americus.

The family asks, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Fuller Center.