Robert G. Heft
|Robert G. Heft|
Robert G. Heft on December 5, 2009, seven days before his death.
January 19, 1941|
Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||December 12, 2009
Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Known for||Designer of the 50-star flag|
Robert G. "Bob" Heft (January 19, 1941 – December 12, 2009) was the designer of the current American 50-star flag as well as a designer of a submitted 51-star flag proposal. He spent his childhood in Lancaster, Ohio, where he created the American flag as a school project.
Early life and education
Heft was born in Saginaw, Michigan, but was raised by his grandparents in Lancaster, Ohio, where he graduated from Lancaster High School in 1960. He subsequently studied at Ohio State University and Ohio University.
After high school, Heft worked as a draftsman. He later taught history at Lancaster High and at Northwest State Community College in Archbold. He also served seven terms as mayor of Napoleon, Ohio. After retiring from teaching, he became a tourist, and visited Europe, looking at flag designs. He was a longtime-member of the Harvey Spaulding Toastmasters club in Saginaw, where he earned the nickname "Father Time" as he often filled the role of timer during meetings.
Flag design and adoption
Heft designed the 50-star American Flag in 1958 as a class project in his junior-year high-school history class, cutting up an old flag that belonged to his grandparents. His teacher, Stanley Pratt, gave him a B- for the project, but after discussion agreed that if the flag design was accepted by the United States Congress, he would reconsider the grade. Heft enlisted the aid of his congressman, Walter Moeller, who lived nearby, and the 50-star flag design that was the same as Heft's was chosen and adopted by presidential proclamation in 1959 after the admission of Alaska into the union and before that of Hawaii. According to Heft, Pratt honored their agreement and changed his grade to an A for the project. Heft has also stated he had copyrighted designs for American flags with 51 to 60 stars. According to the footnoted article, "Starring Role," Bob talked about the time when he was invited to the National Mall on July 4, 1960, to see his flag fly over the U.S. Capitol. and “There he was, with a congressman on one side and President Eisenhower on the other." The Saginaw News for December 14, 2009 reported that since designing the flag, "Heft visited the White House 14 times under nine presidents and toured with Bob Hope."
When Alaska and Hawaii were being considered for statehood, more than 1,500 flag designs were spontaneously submitted to President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Although some of them were 49-star versions, the vast majority were 50-star proposals. At least three, and probably more, of these designs were identical to Heft's adopted design of the 50-star flag. Archived in the Eisenhower Presidential Center in Abilene, Kansas, only a small fraction of the proposed designs have ever been published. In September 1958 the Acting Secretary of the Army had already sent designs for the 49-star and 50-star flags to the Secretary of Defense that included the designs that would be ultimately selected by the president. At a cabinet meeting on November 19, 1958, President Eisenhower received a briefing on the history of the flag design process and several suggestions were made regarding designs for the new flags.
- Social Security Death Index
- Sell, Jill (June 2015). "Starring Role". Ohio magazine.
- Rasmussen, Frederick N. (July 3, 2010). "A half-century ago, new 50-star American flag debuted in Baltimore". The Baltimore Sun.
- Hooker, Lisa R. (1988). "History Writing Samples". The Write Words, Ltd. Retrieved January 1, 2014.
- Barber, Barrie (December 17, 2009). "Hats Off to Saginaw flag designer who gave America 50 stars". MLive.
- Designer of America's current flag, by Jim Sielicki (UPI), The Exchange, July–August 1988.
- Story Corps oral history of the creation of the 50 star flag in the words of Robert G. Heft.