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Toll Brothers Co-Founder Robert Toll Dies At 81

Toll Brothers co-founder Robert Toll

Robert Toll, who built tens of thousands of homes as co-founder of residential real estate giant Toll Brothers, died Friday after a battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 81.  

Born in 1940 and and raised in the Philadelphia suburb of Elkins Park, Toll received his undergraduate degree from Cornell University and then studied at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, according to a press release the company issued following his death. Toll practiced law for one year after graduating from law school before founding Toll Brothers with his brother, Bruce, in 1967.

“One of the happiest days of my life was when Bob quit the practice of law and we joined together to start Toll Brothers, building what has become such a great company,” Bruce Toll said in the release. “While deeply saddened by his passing, I am forever grateful for our lives together as brothers and business partners.”  

Inspired by their father, Albert, a real estate broker and used car salesman, the brothers built two colonial-style homes in suburban Philadelphia. The brothers were able to secure contracts to build 20 more homes in the community, setting the firm on a path to success.

The homes were priced at $17,500, but their father advised them to build fancier homes that would sell closer to $25K, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The Pennsylvania-based firm went public in 1986 and would go on to become a Fortune 500 company with $9B in annual homebuilding revenues. Toll Brothers now has a presence in over 60 markets in 24 states. The firm has developed more than 150,000 homes since its founding, according to a spokesperson. 

Toll served as chairman and CEO of the company until 2010 but remained on the board of directors until stepping back to chairman emeritus. Toll was named CEO of the Year by BUILDER Magazine three times and was named to Barron's List of The World's 30 Most Admired Home Builders twice.

“All of us who were lucky enough to spend time with Bob have been forever impacted by his huge heart, unique sense of humor, zest for life, and profound intelligence," Toll Brothers Chairman and CEO Douglas Yearley Jr. said in the release. "Bob was a brilliant strategist and an incredible teacher and advisor. His lessons have been indelibly etched over the past half century in the minds of the entire Toll Brothers team and many of the industry’s current and future leaders.”

Toll is survived by his wife, Jane, their five children and 12 grandchildren. Toll and his wife were the major benefactors of Seeds of Peace, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing youth and educators from areas of conflict around the world together. The nonprofit hosts programming at Camp Powhatan in Maine, which was Toll's childhood camp.