Robert (Bob) Edward Folinsbee was born in Edmonton, Alberta on April 16, 1917. He studied at the University of Alberta (U of A) where he completed his BSc in 1938. Folinsbee went on to study at the University of Minnesota where he received his MSc in 1940 and his PhD. in 1942. He also served in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a pilot during the Second World War.
In returned to the U of A in 1946 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geology. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1950 and Full Professor in 1955. From the years 1955 to 1969, Folinsbee was the Chair of the Department of Geology. He retired from the U of A in 1978 and was made Professor Emeritus.
Throughout his career Folinsbee published many scientific academic papers, with a strong focus on mineralogy and regional geology which were published by the Geological Survey of Canada. He also published on the topics of geochronology, ore deposits, and meteorites.
Folinsbee also served on geological organizations including as President of the Geological Society of America from 1975 to 1976 and the Royal Society of Canada from 1977 to 1978.
In 1973 Folinsbee was made an Office of the Order of Canada, followed by receiving the Royal Society of Canada's Willet G. Miller Medal in 1967.
In 1942 Folinsbee was married Catherine Terwillegar, whom he had four children with; Allin, John, Terry, and Catherine. Following is wife death, Folinsbee married Mary Jean McBride in 2001. He passed away on May 1, 2008 in Ontario.