Robert Randle Gilbert served as the sixth leader of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. His tenure as president stretched from April 13, 1939, to August 31, 1953.
Gilbert was born in Paducah, Kentucky, in 1888. He moved to Dallas when he was twelve years old and began working for the John Deere Plow Co. at age fifteen.
Gilbert attended public schools in Paducah and Dallas but did not graduate from high school. He later studied commercial law while employed in banking. At age seventeen, Gilbert entered the banking world and was employed from 1903 to 1905 by the Gaston National Bank and later from 1908 to 1914 by Guaranty State Bank and Trust Co., where he worked as a bookkeeper, teller, and assistant cashier.
In 1914, Gilbert joined the newly established Dallas Fed, becoming one of its original fourteen employees. He worked as a clerk in the Loan and Discount Department and then in the Credit Department. He served a short time as a supervising officer in the War Loan Department upon its creation in 1917 before being charged with overseeing the bank’s fiscal agency functions.
In 1919, Gilbert became manager of the Dallas Fed’s El Paso Branch before being appointed an assistant cashier in the Dallas office in 1920 and later the same year, assistant Federal Reserve agent. In 1924, he was appointed deputy governor (later called first vice president).
Fifteen years after his appointment as first vice president, in 1939, Gilbert was elected president of the Dallas Fed. Initially, his time was consumed by World War II and war financing through war savings bond drives. Postwar, he was in charge of administrating the Dallas Fed’s policies when the growth and development of the Eleventh Federal Reserve District and the Reserve Bank were at their peak.
During his term, Gilbert had many important Federal Reserve System assignments, including membership on various committees of the Conference of Presidents and of the Retirement System. He also served as vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents and was active in Dallas civic affairs. He served as a member of the Advisory Council of Southwestern Medical Foundation, Dallas Community Chest, Goodwill Industries, Dallas Council of World Affairs, Dallas Historical Society, and Greater Dallas Planning Committee.
Serving as chief executive officer longer than any person before him, Gilbert was the last of the original employees of the Dallas Fed to retire. His retirement was effective at close of business August 31, 1953. Upon his retirement, he had been associated with the Federal Reserve System for thirty-nine years and the banking industry for forty-eight years.
Following his career with the Federal Reserve, Gilbert served as chairman of the board at National City Bank in Dallas, which merged with Republic National Bank in 1954. Gilbert then was vice chairman of the board at Republic National Bank from December 1954 to December 1962.
Gilbert died in Dallas in 1971.
Written by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. See disclaimer.