Social reformer Stella Fuller (December 4, 1883-March 2, 1981) was a familiar face in Huntington for more than 70 years. She was born Stella Lawrence Cremeans in Point Pleasant and grew up in rural Mason County. At age 19 she went to Huntington, where she attended business school. After graduation she moved to Welch to work for a law firm. She returned to Huntington after marrying Elmer Fuller in 1907.
Attracted by the religious and charitable programs of the Salvation Army, Fuller began attending services and volunteering her skills. Eventually she was hired as a part-time secretary. As she became more devoted to her Salvation Army career, she and her son moved into an apartment in the Citadel building, where she lived for 20 years.
Fuller left the Salvation Army in January 1943 and opened her relief operation on Huntington’s Washington Avenue. Eventually, the Stella Fuller Settlement expanded into a haven for the disadvantaged and homeless. The Stella Fuller Settlement ceased operations in 2009, and the building that housed it burned in 2012.
This Article was written by Joseph Platania
Last Revised on April 30, 2013
HUNTINGTON – Stella Fuller (1883-1981) ministered to the needy of Huntington for more than 60 years, first as a member of the Salvation Army, then as head of her own Stella Fuller Settlement.
Born Stella Lewis Cremeans in Point Pleasant, West Virginia, she grew up in rural Mason County. At age 19 she moved to Huntington, where she attended business school. After graduation she moved to Welch, West Virginia, to work for a law firm. She returned to Huntington after marrying Elmer Fuller in 1907.
Attracted by its religious and charitable programs, she joined the Salvation Army in 1916, embarking on an Army career that would span more than 25 years. At first she worked as a volunteer, then later was hired as a part-time secretary.
But in January 1943, long-simmering problems between Fuller and the Army came to a head, and she left to found her own settlement house. Officially, the break came because a recreational softball team she had organized was playing games on Sundays and continued to do so even after they were ordered to stop.
But Fuller was increasingly unhappy with the Army’s many rules and regulations and determined to do what she thought was best. And that’s exactly what she did for the next 38 years at the Stella Fuller Settlement, located at 128 Washington Ave. in one of Huntington’s poorest neighborhoods.
In her final years before her death at age 97, ill health forced Stella Fuller to turn over operation of the settlement to her son, Robert Fuller Jr. In 2008, she was posthumously inducted into the Greater Huntington Wall of Fame in recognition of her lifelong efforts in helping the community’s poor and disadvantaged. In 2009, the Stella Fuller Settlement ceased operations, and the building that housed it was badly damaged by fire in 2012.