Millard Fuller, the man who founded Habitat for Humanity and whose name was synonymous with volunteer faith-based efforts to build houses for the poor, died suddenly Tuesday 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.
Chapman said the center expects to go forward with plans for a summer project to build 10 houses in Fuller's hometown of Lanett, Ala., to mark what would have been the 50th wedding anniversary of Fuller and his wife, Linda.
"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 ...1