By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Tributes poured in following the death of Joanne Rogers, the widow of Fred Rogers.
She died Thursday at the age of 92, according to Fred Rogers Productions and the McFeely-Rogers Foundation. The couple was married for 50 years before Fred Rogers, of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fame, died in 2003 of stomach cancer at the age of 74.
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On Twitter, Fred Rogers Productions had a heartfelt tribute for Joanne.
“Joanne was a brilliant and accomplished musician, a wonderful advocate for the arts, and a dear friend to everyone in our organization. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Joanne’s family and the thousands of people who had the privilege of knowing and loving her,” the tweet reads.
(2/2) Joanne was a brilliant and accomplished musician, a wonderful advocate for the arts, and a dear friend to everyone in our organization. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Joanne’s family and the thousands of people who had the privilege of knowing and loving her. pic.twitter.com/aPx9mGwhzc
— Fred Rogers Productions (@FredRogersPro) January 14, 2021
“We are heartbroken to share the news of the passing of Joanne Rogers, a joyful and tender-hearted spirit, whose heart and wisdom have guided our work in service of Fred’s enduring legacy. We extend our sympathies to the Rogers Family and all who were blessed to know Joanne,” the Fred Rogers Center said on Twitter.
We are heartbroken to share the news of the passing of Joanne Rogers, a joyful and tender-hearted spirit, whose heart and wisdom have guided our work in service of Fred’s enduring legacy. We extend our sympathies to the Rogers Family and all who were blessed to know Joanne. pic.twitter.com/ncJMIMSrxi
— Fred Rogers Center (@FredRogersCtr) January 14, 2021
The City of Pittsburgh said Joanne was one of Pittsburgh’s “favorite neighbors.” Pennsylvania’s official Twitter account also shared its condolences.
“Joanne & Fred forever changed our city. Thank you for your dedication to @FredRogersPro, @wqed, our children, & our community,” the city said on Twitter.
“Thank you for all of the kindness you brought to our commonwealth,” the state said.
One of #Pittsburgh’s favorite neighbors.
— City of Pittsburgh (@Pittsburgh) January 14, 2021
RIP Joanne Rogers.🖤
Thank you for all of the kindness you brought to our commonwealth. https://t.co/NywnwfXR7b
— Pennsylvania (@PennsylvaniaGov) January 14, 2021
“Thank you to Joanne and Fred Rogers for their commitment to public media, children’s programming, and making the world a more neighborly place,” PBS Digital Studios said.
Thank you to Joanne and Fred Rogers for their commitment to public media, children's programming, and making the world a more neighborly place 💙 https://t.co/HxolIE3AuV
— PBS Digital Studios (@PBSDS) January 14, 2021
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said he was “heartbroken to learn of the loss of Joanne Rogers, one of our favorite neighbors.”
“Joanne and Fred were Pennsylvania treasures,” he added.
Heartbroken to learn of the loss of Joanne Rogers, one of our favorite neighbors.
Joanne and Fred were Pennsylvania treasures committed to improving our communities and the lives of our children.
We will never forget their legacy of kindness. https://t.co/UqYlCgChrL
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) January 14, 2021
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto released a statement, saying:
Through her grace, humor and down-to-earth demeanor Joanne Rogers personified what we love about the City of Pittsburgh. As the partner of Fred Rogers for a half-century she helped champion his good works to a global audience, and remained committed to his vision and to this city after his passing.
She was always there when we needed her. I and countless others, from every walk of life, were humbled to call her a friend.
Duquesne University President Ken Gormley also released a statement, saying:
Joanne Rogers was a sparkling light in Pittsburgh. She was an incurably joyous, optimistic presence in her husband, Fred’s, life and his steady inspiration. Joanne’s spirit touched every part of this city she called home. When we presented her with an honorary degree during Duquesne University’s 2019 commencement, she beamed and told the graduating students, “You are special,” invoking one of Fred’s favorite songs. Joanne Rogers was more than special. She will be a permanent part of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and, for those of us who knew and loved her, she will always remain in our hearts.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said Thursday “is a sad day in our neighborhood.”
I was sorry to hear the news that Joanne Rogers has died. For many years, she has continued to carry on and fulfill the legacy of her husband, ensuring that the focus of work remains on our children.
It is a sad day in our neighborhood. pic.twitter.com/nYT8FtHLVt
— Allegheny Co. Exec. (@ACE_Fitzgerald) January 14, 2021
Florida State University College of Music, where Mrs. Rogers, is an aluma, sent out this condolence message on Twitter:
Joanne Rogers (née Byrd), FSU alumna and wife of TV's Fred Rogers, has passed away at the age of 92. Mrs. Rogers earned her master's in piano under the tutelage of Ernst von Dohnányi in 1952. We are inspired by her legacy, & our thoughts are with the Rogers family at this time. pic.twitter.com/G6zC8PWxWo
— Florida State University College of Music (@MusicFSU) January 15, 2021
Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh leader, Bishop David Zubik, has released this statement:
“With our whole community, I join in mourning the death of Joanne Rogers, a woman whose warmth and love was shared with her family and the entire Pittsburgh region. Mrs. Rogers was a wonderful servant of the Lord, committed to helping people realize God’s love through consistent good works in our communities. She had a beautiful ability to make everyone in her presence feel valued. I was blessed to be in her company on a number of occasions. I pray that we all can find ways to honor the legacy of Joanne and her beloved ‘Mr. Rogers’ through showing kindness and compassion in our own neighborhoods and beyond.”
The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, which gave Rogers the “Great Friend of Children Award” in 2016, released this statement:
“We’re heartbroken by the loss of Joanne Rogers. She was a loving, exuberant woman who made everyone near her feel special. She set the standard for kindness, caring, and grace that we hope to carry forward in everything that we do at the museum and in life. We will miss her laugh.” — Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh Executive Director Jane Werner.