January 25, 2017
DALLAS (SMU) – Longtime SMU supporter and former member of the SMU Board of Trustees Robert S. Folsom '49 died Jan. 24, 2017. A prominent Dallas leader and real estate developer, Folsom served as mayor of Dallas from 1976 to 1981, where his accomplishments included the development of Reunion Arena, creation of the Dallas Arts District and initiation of the restoration of the historic neighborhood, Old East Dallas.
"The City of Dallas will long continue to reap the rewards of Bob Folsom’s visionary leadership,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “But Bob also left an impressive mark on his alma mater, starting with his days as a student athlete, and continuing with his lifetime support as an alumnus. The Robert and Margaret Folsom Institute for Real Estate is the backbone of real estate academic programs at both the BBA and MBA levels in SMU’s Cox School of Business. He also played a significant role in overall fundraising for the Cox School and SMU athletics and was a generous supporter of his university at so many levels. Bob’s legacy lives on at SMU, just as it does in the city he loved so much."
Folsom was chairman and CEO of Folsom Properties Inc., chairman of Sabre Realty Company, Inc. and president of Folsom Investments Inc.
At SMU, Folsom was a star student athlete, alumni leader and philanthropist. His record as the only Mustang to letter in four sports still stands, earning the distinction in in football, basketball, baseball and track. He played football alongside SMU legends Doak Walker and Kyle Rote, and was a member of the 1948 team that tied Penn State in the Cotton Bowl Classic and was co-captain of the 1949 team that defeated Oregon State in the Cotton Bowl. An outstanding hitter on SMU's baseball team, he also placed first in 1944 in the Southwest Conference high jump competition.
Folsom served in numerous leadership positions at SMU, including serving on the Board of Trustees, the Cox School of Business Executive Board and the Athletics Capital Campaign Committee. His awards include the 1975 Distinguished Alumni Award, the 1985 Cox School of Business Entrepreneur of the Year Award, the 1991 Letterman's Association Silver Anniversary Mustang Award and the 1995 Cox School of Business Distinguished Alumni Award.
Folsom created the Robert and Margaret Folsom Institute for Real Estate at the Cox School of Business in 1984, a nationally recognized center for the study of real estate. The center supports scholarships, applied research and industry and community outreach.
Folsom also shared his love of SMU with his family. His wife, the late Margaret Folsom, was an SMU graduate along with three of his four children, Diane Folsom Miller '72, Debra Folsom Jarma '75 and R. Stephen Folsom '81. His son John Folsom died in 1983.