Former Congressman Bill Hefner dies at 79

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Former U.S. Rep. W.G. “Bill” Hefner, who represented Rowan County in Congress, died this afternoon at the age of 79.
Hefner’s wife, Nancy, said he died shortly before 4 p.m. Central Time after suffering a massive stroke Tuesday that involved bleeding in the brain stem.
“He had been to a Democratic meeting and took ill after that,” she said from the couple’s home in Guntersville, Ala.
Hefner was taken by ambulance to a hospital, then by helicopter to a larger facility in Huntsville, Ala.
“I’m still somewhat in a state of shock,” Nancy Hefner said.
Hefner, a Democrat, served the 8th Congressional District, which includes Cabarrus County and earlier included Rowan County, from 1975 until his retirement in 1999. The W.G. (Bill) Hefner V.A. Medical Center is named in his honor.
Hefner and his wife had lived in Alabama since his retirement. He was succeeded in the 8th District by Robin Hayes, a Republican from Concord. U.S. Rep. Larry Kissell, a Democrat, defeated Hayes for the seat in 2008.
In a statement released by his office, Kissell said Hefner served the district “with tremendous honor and distinction.”
“When I think about Bill Hefner, I think about his work on behalf of our veterans, our military and their families. He set the example of how to care for those who fight for our freedom. He was smart and funny and had a reputation for making people laugh, but he also had a reputation for being a tough legislator when it was called for. … It is an honor to serve in his seat in Congress.”
The 8th District, he said, “has lost one of its dearest friends today.”