Joanne Rogers, widow of Mister Rogers, the well-known tv station, dies on the age of 92

Joanne Rogers, an accomplished concert pianist who celebrated and protected the legacy of her husband, beloved children’s television host Mister Rogers, died in Pittsburgh. She was 92 years old.

Rogers died Thursday, according to the Fred Rogers Center. No cause of death was given. The center called her “a joyful and tender spirit whose heart and wisdom have guided our work in the service of Fred’s enduring legacy”.

Married for over 50 years, Joanne and Fred Rogers spanned the start and end of the low-tech low-tech neighborhood, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” which introduced Fred Rogers as an adult in a busy world that always had time to listen had for children. His appeal as America’s favorite neighbor never seemed to wane before his death in 2003.

“I can’t imagine a time we needed him so much,” Joanne Rogers told The Associated Press in 2018. “I think his work is as relevant now as it was when it came out, frankly.”

Fred Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister, produced the landmark Pittsburgh public television show WQED from 1966 and went nationwide two years later. He composed his own songs for the show.

It provided a soft haven for children, in sharp contrast to the noisy, livelier competition. The final episode of what his widow called “a comfortable round” aired in August 2001.

PBS stations across the country are still broadcasting “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” and some can be found on the PBS Kids video app. There are DVD collections on Amazon and episode streams on Amazon Prime.

The city of Pittsburgh, where the show was produced, tweeted that Joanne Rogers was one of Pittsburgh’s “biggest neighbors”. It was said that the couple “changed our city forever”. Other honors came from fans as diverse as tennis star Billie Jean King to designer Kenneth Cole.

Fred Rogers ‘influence on popular culture has been profound: Eddie Murphy parodied him on Saturday Night Live in the 1980s, and one of Rogers’ zipped sweater trademarks hangs in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. A category on the subject of “endangerment” was dedicated to him.

2018, the 50th anniversary of Rogers’ first appearance on television, resulted in a PBS special, a new postage stamp and the full-length documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” and a year later the Tom Hanks-directed biopic “A Nice Day in the Neighborhood”.

Joanne Rogers was born Sara Joanne Byrd in 1928 and met her future husband at Rollins College in Florida. After the death of Fred Rogers, she helped establish the Fred Rogers Center Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at St. Vincent College in his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania.

“Joanne and Fred were Pennsylvania treasures working to improve our communities and the lives of our children. We will never forget their legacy of kindness, “Pennsylvania governor Tom Wolf said in a statement.

She is survived by two sons, James Byrd Rogers and John Rogers.


Associate press reporter Michael Rubinkam contributed to this report from Pennsylvania.

Mark Kennedy, The Associated Press

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