Joanne Rogers, wife of Fred Rogers (also known by fans as Mister Rogers) has died at the age of 92, KDKA reported. A cause of death was not immediately available. She and Fred Rogers had been married for 50 years when he died in 2003, and she had worked to carry on his legacy after he died.
Joanne Rogers Died at the Age of 92
Joanne Rogers had lived a full life after her husband died, and passed away at the age of 92, CBS Pittsburgh reported. She had carried on her husband’s legacy of kindness after he died, and received the George Romero Legacy Award in 2019.
Her cause of death wasn’t revealed, but David Newell (who played Mr. McFeely on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) told Action 4 News that she had been hospitalized for several days.
I just got off the phone with two dear friends of Fred and Joanne Rogers who tell me that Mrs. Rogers has died. She was 92. She led an inspirational life. Prayers of peace and comfort for your family Mrs. Rogers.
— Shannon Perrine (@sperrineWTAE) January 14, 2021
The McFeely-Rogers Foundation and Fred Rogers Productions confirmed Rogers’ death with KDKA.
Joanne Rogers was a pianist and also earned a bachelor’s degree from Rollins College. She later earned a master’s in music from Florida State University. She taught at Chatham College’s preparatory school of music in the late 1950s, the Post Gazette reported, and she taught at Carlow College for four years in the 1970s. She said that she loved to see someone’s talent changing in front of her, as they grow in their musical skills.
Joanne Rogers provided voices for Fred’s characters on The Children’s Corner, but did not have a regular role on his popular Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood series. She said she felt it was wise to stay away from his work area, the Post Gazette shared. She did appear as herself in a couple of his episodes, and Queen Sara was named after her first name.
In 2016, Joanne Rogers was honored by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburg with the Great Friend of Children Award for her work in preserving her husband’s legacy.
Fred Rogers spoke to the Post Gazette lovingly about his wife in 2002. He said about Joanne:
Joanne has that way. She is so in tune with the people that she’s with. I think what she probably did was to help this person to feel appreciated. … That’s about as close as we get to the Eternal. God is the great appreciator. We are created in God’s image, so naturally the best thing in life is to be able to appreciate your neighbor and allow your neighbor to feel appreciated.
Joanne and Fred Rogers have two sons. James Rogers was born in 1959 and John Rogers was born in 1961.
She Was By Her Husband’s Side When He Died in 2003
Joanne Rogers was by her husband’s side at his Pittsburgh home when he died of stomach cancer just one month shy of his 75th birthday. He had retired in 2001, but continued to make public appearances until his death.
Joanne Rogers once said about Fred’s last 25 years:
I couldn’t help getting caught up in Fred’s world. For the last twenty-five years of his life, everywhere we went, people would come up to him to say hello. He loved hearing their stories. One of the worst jobs was moving him along in a crowd! Everyone wanted to talk to him. And he loved their stories. He would just keep asking questions so he could get to know more about them. He had a heart that had room for everyone, and he was fascinated by other people’s journeys.
The Post Gazette described Joanne as mischievous, balancing out Fred’s more quiet and contemplative approach.
Fred Rogers’ sister, Elaine, died in March 2019 at the age of 80.