Fred Rogers’ Sons, James Byrd & John Rogers: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers)

Getty Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers)

Fred and Joanne Rogers had two sons: James “Jim” Byrd Rogers and John Rogers. James Rogers was born in 1959 and John Rogers was born in 1961. His sons say that Fred was a “what you see is what you get” kind of man who was very kind-hearted. Here is what you need to know about Fred Rogers’ sons.

1. John Rogers Said that His Dad Would Have Been Thrilled About Tom Hanks’ Portraying Him

Fred Rogers’ son John Rogers says in the video below, provided by TMZ, that Fred would have been thrilled about Tom Hanks’ playing him. He said Fred probably watched Forrest Gump about 100 times.

In an interview with WESH 2, Fred Rogers’ nephew Daniel Crozier said that Tom Hanks portrayed Fred beautifully.

John said that he and his son met Tom Hanks on set during the filming.

2. John & James Appeared in Episodes of ‘Mister Rogers’

According to IMDb, John appeared on the Won’t You Be My Neighbor documentary, and he was in four episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. He also appeared in one episode of Canada’s MisteRogers episodes. His brother James has also appeared on his dad’s show as a kid.

IMDb also listed Jim Rogers as appearing on the Won’t You Be My Neighbor documentary and in seven episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. He also appeared on one episode of Misterogers. 

John said in the documentary that his dad would sometimes speak in the voice of Lady Elaine the puppet around the house. “It was a little tough having the second Christ as my dad,” he said about his dad’s popularity.

3. James Rogers Rebelled a Bit When He First Started College, His Dad Said

GettyMister Rogers

Fred Rogers once said that his son James had some struggles becoming an adult. He said, “It’s been painful, and it’s rough on Jamie, but if we don’t allow him to go off and have this time for himself, he’ll never come back to the nest.”

A story in People from 1978 said that James “Jim” Rogers was attending Rollins College, where his dad went, and stopped writing his parents or answering their calls as a freshman. Fred said it had been a difficult year and Joanne said there had been some “real hostility.”

Even Jim said his parents had been nice about the whole thing. He told People: “I’m just trying to get used to being a person, to get along by myself.”

The story noted that at the same time John, who was then 16, commuted 40 miles a day to prep school so he could stay at home. He tried to make sure conflicts with his parents didn’t late too long, People shared.

In 2002, the Post Gazette reported that John lived in Florida and Jim lived in Allison Park. Jim had two grandsons: Alex, 13 in 2002, and Douglas, 9 in 2002. Today, Alex is about 30 and Douglas is about 26.

4. John Rogers Said His Dad Was Just Like What You Saw on TV

In an interview with WESH 2, John Rogers said his dad was just like he appeared on TV. He didn’t like to call himself a star and when he met people, he wanted to ask them questions about themselves.

“People would always want to ask questions about him and he would always turn it around and ask about you,” John Rogers said.

5. Fred Rogers’ Wife Assured Him that She & His Sons Would Be Fine When He Got Sick

GettyJoanne Rogers in 2012

Fred Rogers passed away from stomach cancer in February 2003. He had been in a lot of pain for the months leading up to it. Joanne Rogers, his wife, told the Post-Gazette nearly a year after he died that she had been worried about him in those months leading up to his death. She said he wasn’t feeling well, so they kept trying to fix things that he could eat without feeling more pain.

She said that she finally told him: “You know, we’re going to be OK. We’re going to be all right. The boys will be fine, and I’m going to try to be fine.” She said she felt like he was in peace and feeling joy when he passed on.