Stephanie Stipins, executive director of the Greater Fort Smith Association of Homebuilders (GFSHBA), died early Tuesday morning (July 5) following complications from a recent surgery. She was 47.
“I am not one to put personal stuff all over social media. This is going to be hard. My best friend and the love of my life Stephanie Stipins passed away this morning at about 5:30 a.m.,” husband Eric Stipins posted on Facebook Tuesday.
The couple were married 29 years and have four children – Ericka Shrum, Isabella, Samantha, and Colton Stipins. They have two grandchildren.
Stipins became the executive director of GFSHBA in 2013.
“With more than 15 years in marketing, public relations, volunteer coordinating, and event planning and management, Stephanie has served the greater Fort Smith area faithfully,” the GFSHBA website said.
Under her direction, the association saw a 37% growth in membership, and she increased community awareness and involvement by reestablishing the Fort Smith Home Show and creating new events, such as the annual Lego Building Contest and the Trap Shoot Tournament, the site said.
“It’s with great sadness that we learned this morning of the sudden and tragic loss of our Executive Director, Stephanie Stipins. An amazing woman, her example and leadership guided our organization and touched the lives of people in our community. Words cannot convey the impact she had on all of us,” GFSHBA posted Tuesday.
The association said it would put organization matters on hold until the board could meet and “discuss how to carry on the legacy Stephanie left in our hands.”
Stipins also was instrumental in working with Fort Smith Public Schools, Arkansas Department of Workforce Education and the Department of Labor to establish the Residential Apprentice Construction Program. She received the 2015 Association of Excellence Award, for the Best Workforce Development Plan Implemented and the 2017 FSPS Partner in Education, Norma Shaffer Partner of the Year Award.
She was the co-founder of Laney Bell Productions, an event planning company in the Fort Smith area. She also served as a board member for Manes and Miracles, Therapeutic Equestrian Center at Chaffee Crossing and Next Step Day Center.
“Stephanie was an energetic, organized, willing volunteer for many of our agency activities. She will be tremendously missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family as they navigate this unexpected loss,” Next Step Homeless Services posted on Facebook Tuesday.
A native of Fort Smith, Stipins lived in Mansfield.
Funeral arrangements have not yet been released.