Community mourns loss of ‘flag man,’ George Scofield
Published 1:41 pm Monday, December 1, 2008
His full name was George Aquila Scofield, but to many people, especially students, he was known simply as the &dquo;flag man.&dquo;
Students and many others in the area are mourning the passing this week of Scofield, who was active in the community in a variety of ways up until his death Tuesday at the age of 85.
Many people may know Scofield as the founder and curator of the House of Flags museum. Since the beginning of this decade he worked tirelessly to create and grow the museum, using it as a tool to instill patriotism and educate people about the country&squo;s history.
The idea for the museum came to him after noticing that many people, especially among younger generations, seemed to lack a sense of patriotism and did not properly honor the nation&squo;s flag. He recalled one particular&bsp; local parade during which people seemed to hardly notice the flag as it passed by.
He often took time to educate people about flag etiquette, including the proper ways to display the flag, and was equally vocal about the proper way to recite the &dquo;31-word, three comma&dquo; Pledge of Allegiance.
The museum, he often said, gave him a chance to educate people about such practices and the nation&squo;s history. But he also emphasized the role the museum could play as a draw for tourists and a benefit to the local economy.
With sponsorhip from the Columbus VFW Post 9116 and Auxiliary, Scofield starting planning the House of Flags in January of 2001. After securing a home for it with the help of Marvin Arledge and the Green Creek Family Life Center, the museum opened at the center on September 8, 2001, just three days before the 9/11 tragedy.
Over the next several years, Scofield served as the museum&squo;s curator, giving tours to numerous groups, including more than 3,000 students. The museum includes more than 300 flags, including all 28 historical U.S. flags, numerous state flags, Civil War flags, armed service flags and religious flags.
Scofield, who drove a car with a small U.S. flag flying from the window, said he was pleased to see how the museum had grown. But he kept pursuing his dream of finding a more central location for the museum that would attract more visitors. Eventually, he was able to get approval from the Town of Columbus and Polk County to proceed with plans for the museum at the site of the old Columbus fire house on Gibson Street.
Although he didn&squo;t live to see the museum at that location, he did see others in the community take up his cause and help plan the museum&squo;s relocation. &dquo;If I do what I&squo;m trying to do, there will be somebody behind me to keep (the museum) going,&dquo; said Scofield in an interview in 2006.
That&squo;s exactly what has happened. The museum&squo;s board of directors is proceeding with plans to renovate the old fire house, and hopes to have it open on Gibson Street in the near future.
Robert Williamson, chairman of the board of directors, expressed the board&squo;s sadness after learning about Scofield&squo;s death this week.
&dquo;He was truly a tireless visionary for the House of Flags Museum project from the start until his death,&dquo; said Williamson. &uot;George has a warm place in our hearts and memories of him as the &39;flag man&39; are shared throughout the county by hundreds of school children and their teachers. Please keep George&squo;s family in your prayers.&dquo;
Scofield&squo;s passion for the museum was evident up until the day he died. Williamson said Scofield called Williamson&39;s wife, Deb, Monday before going into surgery at Mission Memorial Hospital. He wanted to make sure that if something happened, memorials would be made in his name to the House of Flags museum.
For more information about the museum and ways to contribute, visit www.houseofflags.org.