Joan Rogers, an accomplished pianist who celebrated the legacy and protection of her husband, beloved children’s program presenter Mr. Rogers, has died in Pittsburgh. She was 92 years old.
Rogers died on Thursday, according to the Fred Rogers Center. No cause of death was given. The center called it “a joyful and tender spirit, whose heart and wisdom guided our work in the service of a unique and enduring heritage.”
Joan and Fred Rogers were married more than 50 years ago, spanning the launch and ending of the low-key, low-tech “Mister Rogers neighborhood”, which introduced Fred Rogers as an adult in a busy world who always had time to listen to children. His withdrawal as America’s favorite neighbor did not seem to diminish before his death in 2003.
Joanne Rogers told The Associated Press in 2018: “I can’t think of a time when we needed it most, I think his work is just as timely as it was when it came out, honestly.”
Fred Rogers, a Presbyterian minister, produced the flagship show on public television station WQED in Pittsburgh beginning in 1966, and became patriot two years later. He composed his own songs for this show.
It provided a pleasant haven for children, in sharp contrast to the loudest and most lively competition. The final episode of what his widow described as “a comfortable embrace” was aired in August 2001.
PBS stations across the country still broadcast “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” and some can be found on the PBS Kids Video app. DVD sets are on Amazon and the episodes air on Amazon Prime.
Pittsburgh, where the show was produced, tweeted that Joan Rogers was one of Pittsburgh’s “greatest neighbors”. She said that the couple “changed our city forever.” Other acclaims came from fans as diverse as tennis star Billie Jean King to designer Kenneth Cole.
Fred Rogers ‘influence on popular culture has been profound: he was mocked by Eddie Murphy on “Saturday Night Live” in the 1980s and one of Rogers’ zip-up jackets hung at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. He had a class dedicated to him in “Danger”.
2018, the fiftieth anniversary of Rogers’ debut on television, prompted a television special, a new postage stamp, and a feature-length documentary called Wouldn’t You Be My Neighbor? A year later, “A Beautiful Day Nearby”, led by Tom Hanks, appeared.
Sarah Joan Beard was born in 1928, and Joan Rogers met her future husband at Rollins College in Florida. After Fred Rogers’ death, she helped develop the Fred Rogers Early Learning and Children’s Media Center at St. Vincent’s College in his hometown of La Trobe, Pennsylvania.
Joanne and Farid have been a Pennsylvania treasure committed to improving our communities and the lives of our children. “We will never forget their legacy of kindness,” Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe said in a statement.
She was survived by two sons, James Beard Rogers and John Rogers.
Associated Press correspondent Michael Robinkam from Pennsylvania contributed to this report.