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Former Tulsa Mayor Robert J. Lafortune dies at 97

Robert J. LaFortune, left, and Patience Latting.
Oklahoma Historical Society
Robert J. LaFortune, left, and Patience Latting.

Former Tulsa mayor Robert J. LaFortune died Wednesday. He was 97.

LaFortune served as mayor from 1970 to 1978, and was the grandfather of current mayor G.T. Bynum.

According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, LaFortune played a critical role in developing Tulsa’s highway system and secured money for the Tulsa Performing Arts Center in his time as mayor. Before that, he was the city’s commissioner of streets and public property, where he secured land for the Port of Catoosa.

LaFortune also served on boards for Tulsa institutions such as the Philbrook Museum, Cascia Hall, Bank of Oklahoma and Southern Hills Country Club.

Bynum said in a statement Thursday that his grandfather showed “what a positive impact one person can make for the good.”

"He approached his work at the City of Tulsa as a public service, not as a political opportunity. He made a significant contribution to nearly every aspect of Tulsa’s community life through tireless effort because he loved our city so much," Bynum said. “Even at the age of 97, he remained excited about the city that Tulsa is becoming and believed that our best days are yet to come.”

Tulsa Regional Chamber President Mike Neal said LaFortune’s mark on Tulsa is “incredible.”

Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS. A Tulsa native, Bryan worked at newspapers throughout Arkansas and in Norman before coming home to "the most underrated city in America." Several of Bryan's news stories have either led to or been cited in changes both in the public and private sectors.