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Source: Saginaw News
Date: December 14, 2009
Byline: Eric Joyce

Remembering the final days of America's 50-star flag designer Bob Heft

Robert G. Heft has kept up his 200-plus speaking engagements-per-year schedule right up until the week before his death.

Robert Winford, 75, a 30-year friend and Grand Blanc resident, said Heft recently visited Kentucky to endorse U.S. Senate candidate Bill Johnson. While there, Heft shared time with veterans, scouts and schoolchildren.

Heft, the creator of the longest-serving flag in U.S. history, died Saturday at Covenant Medical Center in Saginaw. The Thomas Township resident was 67.

Winford, a political strategist, said Heft wanted to pay an impromptu visit to an elementary school in Clay City, Ky. He said Heft asked the school's principal if he could share his story to the students of the school.

"He had presented his story and asked any students who knew how to say the Pledge of Allegiance to join him," Winford said. "They just rushed forward to meet him. He really loved working with veterans and schoolchildren."

Heft was 17 in 1958 when he received an unusual phone call from an important individual. When the caller asked for Robert G. Heft, the teenager said, “Yes, but you can call me Bob.” He didn't realize he was speaking with President Dwight D. Eisenhower. Heft's high school project had been selected by the president to represent the United States of America and the 50-star U.S. flag was born.

Winford said Heft would "beam with pride" because of his work and was a constant inspiration for children. He said he taught them how to follow their dreams.

Heft visited the White House 14 times under nine presidents and toured with Bob Hope, Winford said.

"He was such an amazing guy, what an amazing person he was," he said. "I am certain that when God asked if he was speaking to Robert G. Heft, Bob replied with a smile, 'Yes, but you can call me Bob.' " Mon Dec 14 2009 11:35:41 GMT-0500 (Eastern Standard Time)

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