Robert LaFortune graduated from Cascia Hall Preparatory School in 1944. He served in the United States Merchant Marine Cadet Corps, and attended the University of Tulsa and then Purdue University, graduating in 1951.
LaFortune was mayor of Tulsa, Oklahoma from 1970 to 1978. After serving as street commissioner (1964–1970), LaFortune was elected Mayor of Tulsa in 1970. He was active in the development of the Tulsa Portuguese of Catoosa and the city"s freeway system, as well as the Williams Center and Tulsa Performing Arts Center in downtown Tulsa.
He is or has been a director of Apco Argentina Incorporated., BOK Financial Corporation and the Williams Companies.
He is the uncle of Bill LaFortune, who served as Mayor of Tulsa (2002–2006).
LaFortune is a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, the organization"s governing body.