I read and heard that Robert Heinlein is dead. That just shows how much they know. Is Mike the computer dead? Is Podkayne Fries dead? Is Igli dead? Nonsense. Mike, Podkayne and Igli all "died" (with Mike and Igli we can't be sure), but still "live" in his books. For millions he lives in the books as truly as he ever lived in the flesh.
I can't remember a time when I wasn't a fan of Heinlein. He took two generations (so far) and opened our minds to much more than time and space. He taught freedom (with responsibility) and tolerance to many in an age that tries to forget those things. And we had fun learning.
Very few writers in any genre have the vision, talent and timing to become pivotal. So many have followed his lead that sometimes they (and we) forget who went first.
When vacations on the moon are as routine as trips to Disneyland, we'll have Heinlein to thank, as much as anyone. We were lucky to have him.