Robert G. Heft

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Robert G. Heft
Robert G. Heft by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Robert G. Heft on December 5, 2009, seven days before his death.
Born (1941-01-19)January 19, 1941
Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.
Died December 12, 2009(2009-12-12) (aged 68)
Saginaw, Michigan, U.S.
Cause of death Heart attack
Known for Designer of the 50-star flag
Religion Lutheran

Robert G. "Bob" Heft (January 19, 1941 – December 12, 2009), born in Saginaw, Michigan, was the designer of the current American 50-star flag as well as a designer of a submitted 51-star flag proposal.[1] He spent his childhood in Lancaster, Ohio, where he created the American flag as a school project.


After graduating from college, Heft became a high school teacher and later a college professor, and he also served as mayor of Napoleon, Ohio, for 28 years. After retiring from teaching, he became a motivational speaker. Heft 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. While he was seen as one of their own, other members of the club were always honored when Heft would deliver a speech at a meeting.[citation needed]

Flag design and adoption[edit]

There is a widespread myth on the internet that Heft designed the 50 star American Flag in 1958 while living with his grandparents. The story, also repeated in his obituary, says that when he was 17 years old, he did the flag design as a high school class project. According to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Museum, Heft's design was never considered by the official flag committee. There is no congressional record of the President considering Heft's design, and many others came up with the same design that the committee eventually adopted. While the design chosen was the same as Heft's, Heft himself was not the originator of the 50 star flag. [2]

Heft originally received a B- for the project. After discussing the grade with his high school teacher, Stanley Pratt, it was agreed that if the flag design was accepted by the United States Congress, the grade would be reconsidered. The 50 star flag design that was the same as Heft's flag design was chosen and adopted by presidential proclamation after Alaska and before Hawaii were admitted into the union in 1959. According to Heft, his teacher honored their agreement and changed his grade to an A for the project.[3]

Heft has also stated he had copyrighted designs for American flags with 51 to 60 stars.[4]

When Alaska and Hawaii were being considered for statehood, more than 1,500 designs were spontaneously submitted to President Dwight D. Eisenhower by Americans. 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.[citation needed]


On December 12, 2009, Heft died from a heart attack at Covenant Medical Center at the age of 68.[5]


External links[edit]