Diana Truman, "a much-loved and popular member of the BIRA team" has lost her battle against cancer, the association announced today.
The British Independent Retailers Association ceo Alan Hawkins commented: "Her work running the Home Decoration Retailers Association also made her BIRA's longest-serving employee when her time with HDRA and its predecessor the Paint and Wallpaper Trade Association is added.
"Her enthusiasm and can-do attitude meant that it was natural that she stepped up to be secretary of both the BHF and PPRA divisions. BHF was a natural progression from her HDRA experience but she soon discovered and developed her skills in the pet industry. This followed from her love of animals, and particularly her beloved cats and her horse Squirrel, who she rode until both their riding days were over. No problem for 'Squidge', who was visited daily just as a loved pet would be.
"However her work in charge of the branches, which bought her into day-to-day contact with members, was where she probably found her most rewarding role. Often working all day and going to branch meetings in the evening; sometimes standing in for the non-appearance of a previously-booked speaker."
Mr Hawkins said that when Ms Truman's cancer took hold she never complained "and remained her smiley and effervescent self, right to the end, only ceasing to come to work when she had no alternative."
He added that Ms Truman had been: "A true BIRA star who will be missed by all who had the privilege of knowing her."
The funeral will take place on Monday, November 2 2015 at 9.45am in the West Chapel at Streetly Crematorium, 296 Little Hardwick Road, Aldridge, Walsall WS9 0SG.
There will be a light buffet afterwards, a five-minute drive away, at The Plough & Harrow, 770 Chester Road, Aldridge, Walsall WS9 0LR (tel: 01922 457 847). Please let BIRA have an idea of numbers attending if possible.
It is suggested that instead of flowers, mourners consider making a donation to St Giles Hospice.