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Mr. Beal and his dog, Mountie Jr., appeared at an Animal Rescue League event in 2014.
Mr. Beal and his dog, Mountie Jr., appeared at an Animal Rescue League event in 2014.The Boston Globe/Boston Globe

Robert L. Beal, who was part of the fourth generation of his family to run the Beal Cos. real estate development firm, and whose civic involvement reached from government to hospitals and the arts, died in his sleep Sunday. He was 78.

“He was just one damn good citizen,” said Michael S. Dukakis, who as governor had appointed Mr. Beal, in 1986, to chair the Massachusetts Industrial Finance Agency.

Mr. Beal had served as president of the Beal Cos., which he ran with his older brother, Bruce, who is now chairman of Related Beal – the company formed when their family’s firm combined several years ago with the Related Cos., based in New York City.

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Over the decades, Robert Beal had served on the boards, as a trustee, or an overseer of numerous institutions, including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Tufts Medical Center.

Like his brother, he was a collector of contemporary art, and a benefactor of institutions such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where he had been an overseer for life.

The family’s firm, the Beal Cos., was founded in 1878 by Abraham B. Beal.

Born in Boston in 1941, Robert Lawrence Beal grew up in Brookline, where Dukakis and his family were among his neighbors.

Mr. Beal graduated from Belmont Hill School and attended Harvard College, from which he received a bachelor’s degree in 1963. He graduated from Harvard Business School in 1965 with an MBA.

This is a breaking news story. A full obituary will appear later.


Bryan Marquard can be reached at bryan.marquard@globe.com.