Joanne Rogers, widow of Mister Rogers, has died at the age of 92. She is survived by her and Fred Rogers’ two children: sons James “Jim” Rogers and John Rogers, and their grandchildren.
Here’s what you need to know about John and James Rogers.
John & James Appeared in Episodes of ‘Mister Rogers’
James Rogers was born in 1959 and John Rogers was born in 1961. The sons have both appeared in episodes of Mister Rogers. John appeared on the Won’t You Be My Neighbor documentary, and he was in four episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, IMDb reported. He also appeared in one episode of Canada’s MisteRogers episodes.
James has also appeared on his dad’s show when he was a child. IMDb listed Jim Rogers as appearing in seven episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. He also appeared on one episode of Misterogers.
Joanne Had Assured Her Husband That Their Children Would Be Fine When He Got Sick
Fred Rogers retired in 2001 and died in 2003 of stomach cancer. He suffered from chronic stomach pain and saw a doctor about his symptoms in 2002, when he received the diagnosis. Rogers delayed treatment until after he served as Grand Marshal in the 2003 Rose Parade, according to his biographer Maxwell King. He had stomach surgery on January 6, 2003, and died almost two months later on February 27.
Joanne Rogers told the Post-Gazette about a year after he died that she had been worried about him in those months leading up to his death, and he struggled with food causing him pain.
She said that she finally told him the family would be OK, so he could find some peace She said: “You know, we’re going to be OK… The boys will be fine, and I’m going to try to be fine.”
Their Sons Both Had Some Struggles as Young Adults, But the Family Was Always Close
Fred Rogers once said that his son James had some struggles becoming an adult, especially in the early college years. A story in People from 1978 said that Jim Rogers was attending Rollins College, where his dad went, and stopped writing his parents or answering their calls as a freshman. In contrast, John, who was then 16, commuted 40 miles a day to prep school so he could stay at home.
Fred Rogers said at the time, “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.”
Jim told The Los Angeles Times in 2019 that he wasn’t too happy with that article at the time. As an adult, he lived just about 10 miles away from his mother, and they remained very close.
“Oh, I remember that article, and I wasn’t really thrilled with it,” he said. “But dad always gave me room to grow. I’ve had a beard and long hair for a pretty long time, and he always thought of that as outside stuff that didn’t really matter. I can remember him saying one time he wished he could grow a beard so that people wouldn’t recognize him.”
“It was difficult to have the second Christ as your dad,” he said.
He told The Los Angeles Times:
Dad’s morals were just beyond most people. The way he led his life, I believe dad tried to follow the example of Christ — and did in such a fabulous way. So living up to a legend such as he was challenging for me growing up. I had my issues with that. But at about age 30, I sort of came to peace with it. I was like, ‘You know what? I’m happy with myself.’ And what did dad always teach us? ‘Be happy with the way you are.’
When the movie with Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, was announced, John Rogers said that his dad was a fan of Tom Hanks and would have loved to have Hanks portray him. He said his dad probably watched Forrest Gump about 100 times.
Jim Rogers told The New York Times that his mom visited A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood when it was filming so frequently that she became very close with Tom Hanks. The team even kept a chair on set just for her.