Joanne Rogers, widow of famed children’s TV host Fred Rogers, has died at the age of 92, announced the nonprofit that her late husband founded on Thursday.
Joanne Rogers was married to Fred Rogers for more than 50 years until her death in 2003 due to stomach cancer. She worked as chairman of Fred Rogers Productions after her husband’s death, the company said Thursday.
“Joanne was a brilliant and talented musician, a wonderful champion of the arts and a dear friend to everyone in our organization,” said Fred Rogers Productions. “We express our heartfelt condolences to Joanne̵
The couple met while Fred Rogers attended Rollins College in Florida and kept in touch after moving to New York City for a producer’s assistant job. Joanne Rogers told NBC’s “Today” show in 2018 that her husband suggested in a letter while she was in her final year in Florida State.
Fred and Joanne Rogers had two children, James and John.
Joanne Rogers defended her husband’s legacy as the beloved host of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” and eventually allowed his life to be remembered in the 2018 documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”
She told the Los Angeles Times that her biggest request from the documentary was that her husband not come across as a saint, but as an ordinary man who made his mark through the simplicity of kindness.
“He’s out there now as someone who is somehow far above all the rest of us,” Joanne Rogers said. “People always say, ‘Well, I can not, but I certainly admire him. I would love to do that. ‘Well, you can do it. I’m convinced there are plenty of Fred Rogerses out there. ”
Actor Tom Hanks portrayed Fred Rogers in the 2019 biopic “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” a role that earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
The city of Pittsburgh, where “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” was produced and where Fred Rogers lived the rest of his life, tweeted Thursday that Joanne Rogers was “one of Pittsburgh’s greatest neighbors.”
“Joanne & Fred changed our city forever.”
After Fred Rogers’ death in February 2003, his widow told Pittsburgh’s “NightTalk” that he had been in pain for several months. Joanne Rogers told her husband when it was finally time to let go.
“So there was a sense of genuine relief when I could say to him, ‘You know we’ll be okay. We’ll be okay,’ she told the show. ‘The boys are fine and I will try to be fine “So when he left, I could feel him walking in peace and even with joy. I really feel like he walked with joy.”