Renowned architect LeRoy Troyer, a long-time friend of the Fuller family who supported their ministry as a volunteer and board member with Habitat for Humanity and then The Fuller Center for Housing, died peacefully surrounded by family on Sunday after a brief battle with acute myeloid leukemia. He was 81.
Many will remember him as President Jimmy Carter’s house captain on projects spanning more than three decades, while others may recognize him for designing the world’s largest freestanding wooden structure — the Ark Encounter in Kentucky. Everyone who knew him, though, remembers him as a true servant of Christ with a heart for helping others. His volunteer efforts spanned the globe, including at Fuller Center projects in Armenia, El Salvador, Peru, Nicaragua and an attempt to build peace through home building in North Korea.
“LeRoy Troyer was a great man,” Fuller Center President David Snell said in a statement. “He leaves behind a huge legacy in the many churches, institutions and office buildings that he designed. And he leaves a greater legacy in the hearts of all those who knew and loved him for his wisdom, gentleness and faith. LeRoy was the chair of The Fuller Center’s board for many years from its founding on and artfully guided us through good times and bad. We owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude for The Fuller Center would not be what it is today without his good work in laying a firm foundation under it.”
“My heart is greatly saddened to learn of LeRoy’s passing,” said Linda Fuller, who co-founded Habitat for Humanity and The Fuller Center for Housing with Millard Fuller, who passed away in 2009. “For years he was a dear personal friend to Millard and me along with his tremendous involvement with Habitat and The Fuller Center. LeRoy had a heart packed full of God’s love, generosity and compassion. It gives me joy to believe that Millard was waiting to welcome ‘his buddy’ home.”
“The list of LeRoy’s volunteer and professional accomplishments are almost unbelievable, but he was never one to seek praise for himself,” recalled Ryan Iafigliola, The Fuller Center for Housing’s Director of International Field Operations who also graduated from Notre Dame. “Instead he encouraged and engaged everyone around him, including me when I was a college student at his alma mater Notre Dame. I genuinely wonder if I would have ended up at the Fuller Center had it not been for him.”
Don Mosley, peace activist and founder of Jubilee Partners, remembered him as someone who turned people into brothers and sisters.
“He truly embodied the kind of loving spirit that I think Jesus called us to practice, one that seems to be increasingly important in this world today,” said Mosley, who was with both Troyer and Snell on one of those peace-effort trips to North Korea during the latter days of Kim Jong Il’s rule.
“I’m sure that Millard has greeted him with a warm embrace,” Snell said. “Our prayers are with his wife and family and all those who mourn his passing. May our faith affirm our knowledge that we will meet again.”
“There’s no doubt his life devoted to God impacted so many others, and that he will be sincerely missed,” Iafigliola said. “The rest of us need to step up in a big way if we hope to fill his shoes.”
LeRoy Troyer was born Nov. 23, 1937, to Amish parents Seth and Nancy Troyer in Middlebury, Indiana. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1971 and immediately launched his own architectural firm, The Troyer Group, which he sold earlier this year. He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Phyllis, and sons Don, Ron and Terry.
Visitation for LeRoy Troyer will be 3-8 p.m. Friday and 9-11 a.m. Saturday at Kern Road Mennonite Church, 18211 Kern Road, South Bend, Indiana. A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday at the church. Palmer Funeral Homes of South Bend is in charge of arrangements.
This selection of photos of LeRoy Troyer comes from The Fuller Center for Housing collection: