Along with his brother Bruce, Robert Beal was the fourth generation of family leadership at the Beal Cos., the company founded by Abraham Beal in 1878. The Beal Cos., which partnered with New York-based The Related Cos. in 2013 to become Related Beal, has been one of the biggest developers in Boston for more than a century. Robert Beal joined the family business in 1976.
The native Bostonian graduated from Harvard University in 1963 and Harvard Business School two years later. Beal began his commercial real estate career as vice president of the Beacon Cos. before joining the Beal Cos. The family-run company’s redevelopments include the Custom House Tower and Flour and Grain Exchange Building in downtown Boston. As Related Beal, the firm also redeveloped Lovejoy Wharf and Congress Square and continues to be a leading developer in neighborhoods like Kenmore Square, the South End and the Seaport. Beal had been president of Related Beal until his retirement in 2016.
Beal was known as much for his charitable giving and political activism as his work in real estate. He was part of a group of leaders including New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and the late Boston Mayor Thomas Menino who urged then-Gov. Mitt Romney to reject a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in 2006 after the state legalized it in 2003.
Beal also served as a co-chair of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, where he was often referred to as “Mr. Boston” due to his involvement in numerous civic issues and charities. The developer served as a trustee and on the boards of several leading Boston research and cultural institutions like Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Combined Jewish Philanthropies. The developer was active with the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, where he chaired the Alexis de Tocqueville Society for a decade.