Joanne Rogers, widow of famed children’s television host Fred Rogers, has died at the age of 92, the nonprofit her late husband announced Thursday.
Joanne Rogers married Fred Rogers for more than 50 years until she died in 2003 of stomach cancer. He worked as president of Fred Rogers Productions after the death of her husband.
“Joan was a brilliant and accomplished musician, a wonderful advocate for the arts, and a dear friend to everyone in our organization,” said Fred Rogers Productions. “We express our heartfelt condolences to Joan’s family and the thousands of people who had the privilege of knowing and loving her.”
The couple met when Fred Rogers was attending Rollins College in Florida and kept in touch after moving to New York City for a job as a production assistant. Joanne Rogers told NBC’s “Today” show in 2018 that her husband proposed in a letter while she was in her last year at Florida State.
Fred and Joan Rogers had two children, James and John.
Joanne Rogers became the patron of her husband’s legacy as the beloved host of “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood”, ultimately the 2018 documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
She told the Los Angeles Times that her biggest request for the documentary was that her husband came not as a saint, but as an ordinary man who made his mark through the simplicity of kindness.
Joanne Rogers said, “He is now there who is somehow above all else.” “People always say, ‘Well, I can’t do that, but I’m sure he’ll praise it. I’d love to do it.’ Well, you can. I’m sure a lot of Fred Rogers People are out there. “
Actor Tom Hanks played Fred Rogers in the 2019 biopic “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
The city of Pittsburgh, where the “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” was produced and where Fred Rogers lived for the rest of his life, tweeted Thursday that Joan Rodgers was “one of Pittsburgh’s greatest neighbors.”
“Joan and Fred changed our city forever.”
After Fred Rogers’ death in February 2003, his widow told Pittsburgh’s “NightTalk” that she had been in pain for months. Joanne Rogers tells her husband when it was finally time to leave.
“So the real relief was felt when I could say to her, ‘You know, we’re going to be alright. We’re all going to be alright,” she told the show. “The boys will recover, and I’m going to try to recover.” So when he went, I felt that he could go peacefully and even happily. I really think he went with happiness. “