Philanthropist and CEO Mark Stebbins died suddenly Thursday at the age of 67.

Stebbins was chairman and CEO of PROCON, one of the largest privately-held, family-owned and operated design-build firms in the United States founded by his family in 1935.

He also founded S&S Hotels with Mark Schleicher in 1995, which grew to become XSS hotels when they teamed up with Leo Xarras in 2008.

Stebbins was key to helping Portsmouth and the Seacoast recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. He was appointed by Portsmouth Mayor Rick Becksted to serve on the Citizen Response Task Force and co-chaired the Blue Ribbon Committee to Reopen Portsmouth.

Portsmouth City Manager Karen Conard told Seacoast Current Stebbins died of a heart attack.

"Just as we are beginning to emerge from the darkest shadows of COVID-19, we now stop and remember Mark Stebbins' enthusiasm and example as a ray of sunshine that brightened the path forward for all of us who knew him. On behalf of the city, I extend our deepest condolences to Sally and the family," Conard said.

According to his biography on the PROCON website, Stebbins had three children and four grandchildren.

Known for his charitable work around New Hampshire, one of his final acts of charity on the Seacoast was the Portsmouth Together 200 Challenge to help art/performance spaces, restaurants and hunger relief organizations recover from the pandemic.

Stebbins partnered with Jeff Johnston of Cathartes to provide "the last bridge" to this summer which was at that time, approximately 100 days. Stebbins and Johnston would match up to $100,000 from everyone who donated to the cause.

That goal was met in 30 days and the goal was raised to $250,000 which was also met.

Gov. Chris Sununu was deeply saddened by Stebbins' passing on his Twitter account.

"Mark will be remembered as a family man, deeply devoted to the betterment of his community, his company, and his employees. My prayers are with his wife, Sally, his children, and the entire Stebbins family," the governor wrote.

An emotional Valerie Rochon, who retired Thursday as head of the Chamber Collaborative of Greater Portsmouth, told Seacoast Current she worked closely with Stebbins on the Blue Ribbon panel. Their meetings had begun to wind down recently but she had connected with him several times a week during the past 15 months as part of the task force.

"He was always upbeat. Always optimistic. You could always count on him throwing some humor into the discussion," Rochon told Seacoast Current. "He was a good man. I'm heartbroken for his family, for his company, for all the people who have benefited from his philanthropy."

Funeral services for Stebbins have not yet been announced.

Sarah Sullivan contributed to this report.

Do you have a memory to share about Mark Stebbins? Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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