Robert G. Heft
Robert G. "Bob" Heft (January 19, 1941 – December 12, 2009) claimed to be the designer of the current American 50-star flag; he designed a proposal for a 51-star flag proposal. Born in Saginaw, Michigan, he spent his childhood in Lancaster, Ohio, where he created his design as a school project as while a junior at Lancaster High School in 1958.
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. In 1961, he was president of the Fairfield County, Ohio Young Democrats. That year he designed a new seal for the club.
After high school, Heft worked as a draftsman. In 1963 he ran for city councilor in Lancaster, Ohio. During that race, the Lancaster Eagle-Gazette wrote that he was the youngest candidate for public office in the country. He served as Fairfield County chairman of the 1964 March of Dimes. At that time he was also chairman of the Lancaster beautification committee and a member of the Ohio Beautification Commission. In 1965 he was named Ohio Young Democrat of the year. Also in 1964, Heft was a leader for Southern Ohio in John Glenn's senate campaign. He later taught history at Lancaster High and at Northwest State Community College in Archbold. Bob Heft taught at Sheridan Middle School for one year before moving to Northwest.
He served seven terms as mayor of Napoleon, Ohio, serving six terms from 1973 to 1988 and served as vice president of the Ohio mayors association in 1987 and worked as a real-estate agent. He was the first Democrat to be elected mayor in Napoleon for 20 years. He also traveled widely speaking about patriotism and the flag. 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. He was a member of numerous civic organizations and in 1967 was awarded to the Honorary Legion of Honor of DeMolay International.
Claim to flag design and adoption
According to Heft, he designed the 50-star U.S. 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 also stated that he was invited to the National Mall on July 4, 1960, to see his flag fly over the U.S. Capitol. There he was, with a congressman on one side and President Eisenhower on the other."
To date, there is no independent verification of Heft's account. First, "the official designer is listed as the Army Institute of Heraldry." Heft's story does not account for the fact that more than 1,500 flag designs were spontaneously submitted to President Dwight D. Eisenhower during the time Alaska and Hawaii were being considered for statehood; although some of them were 49-star versions, the vast majority were 50-star proposals. Nor does Heft's story account for the fact that the Acting Secretary of the Army by 1958 had already sent designs for the 49-star and 50-star flags prepared by the Army's Institute of Heraldry to the Secretary of Defense that included the designs that would be ultimately selected by the president. "In fact, by the time Heft submitted his design, the final design probably had already been chosen." 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.
Heft spent his last years in Saginaw, Michigan, where many of his family lived. On December 12, 2009, he died from a heart attack at Covenant Medical Center at the age of 68.
- Social Security Death Index
- Sell, Jill (June 2015). "Starring Role". Ohio magazine.
- Local Young Dem at State Meet, Lancaster Eagle-Gazette (Lancaster, Ohio) 19 Jun 1961, page 2, accessed at Newspapers.com
- DiSalle Will Attend Democrat Ox-Roast, Lancaster Eagle-Gazette (Lancaster, Ohio) 31 July 1961, page 1, accessed at Newspapers.com
- Ohio Democrat Chairman Coleman Speaks At Annual Fall Luncheon, Lancaster Eagle-Gazette (Lancaster, Ohio) 18 Oct 1963, page 3
- Wenger Names Successor to Head 1964 Dimes Drive, Lancaster Gazette-Eagle (Lancaster, Ohio) 16 Nov 1963, page 2, accessed at Newspapers.com
- Heft Is Named Outstanding Young Democreat of Ohio, Lancaster Eagle-Gazette, (Lancaster, Ohio) 24 May 1965, page 2
- New Glory, The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) 31 Jul 1964, page 17, accessed at Newspaper.com
- Designer of flag to speak. The News-Messenger (Fremont, Ohio) 5 Oct 1987, page 3, accessed at Newspapers.com
- Flag Imput Noted From Mayor Heft. The Evening Review (East Liverpool, Ohio) 7 Nov 1975, page 15, accessed at Newspapers.com
- Cross, Sue. Bob Heft Vividly Remembers Designing Flag, Lancaster Eagle-Gazette (Lancaster, Ohio) 1 Jul 1985, accessed at Newspapers.com
- Two Get Highest DeMolay Awards. Lancaster Eagle-Gazette (Lancaster, Ohio) 27 April 1967, page 2
- Rasmussen, Frederick N. (July 3, 2010). "A half-century ago, new 50-star American flag debuted in Baltimore". The Baltimore Sun.
- Martucci, David B. "Wayne's World (of Flags)." Raven: A Journal of Vexillology 22 (2015): 67-77.
- "This Week In Quartermaster History 1-7 July". US Army Quartermaster Museum. Retrieved 2018-04-14.
- Barber, Barrie (December 17, 2009). "Hats Off to Saginaw flag designer who gave America 50 stars". MLive.
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