By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Joanne Rogers, the widow of Pittsburgh icon Fred Rogers, has died, according to Fred Rogers Productions and the McFeely-Rogers Foundation. She was 92.READ MORE: 2-Vehicle Crash Closes Parts Of Route 22 And Route 119 In Westmoreland County
#BREAKING: Fred Rogers Productions and the McFeely-Rogers Foundation confirm to KDKA the wife of Fred Rogers, Joanne Rogers, has passed away.
— Shelby Cassesse (@ShelbyCassesse) January 14, 2021
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. Joanne and Fred met while attending college and later married, a marriage that friends say was as loving and supportive as it looked.
“They had their own language, so to speak. You’d be with them and they would have sayings all the time that they had from the time they were young,” said Bill Isler, the president emeritus of Fred Rogers Productions.
The City of Pittsburgh calls Mrs. Rogers one of our “favorite neighbors.”
One of #Pittsburgh’s favorite neighbors.
— City of Pittsburgh (@Pittsburgh) January 14, 2021
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has released this statement:
“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.”READ MORE: As People Struggle To Secure Unemployment Benefits, Prosecutors Say Fraud Is Widespread
Fred Rogers Productions has released this statement on Mrs. Rogers passing:
“Fred Rogers Productions is deeply saddened by the passing of Joanne Rogers. The loving partner of Fred Rogers for more than 50 years, she continued their shared commitment to supporting children and families after his death as chair of the board of Fred Rogers Productions. 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.”
After his death, Mrs. Rogers carried on his legacy of promoting kindness and understanding and making this a better world for children.
“What you saw of Joanne Rogers when you talked to her on the phone or in person, she was always full of spirit, fun. That was Joanne,” said David Newell, who played Mr. McFeely on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.
(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
In 2019, she was given the George Romero Legacy Award at Steeltown Entertainment’s 2019 Elly Awards.
Steeltown said that Joanne preserved her husband’s legacy while also helping young filmmakers learn about film and media.
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She has also been a very visible figure recently.
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” starring Tom Hanks as her husband, was released in 2019.
Of the movie, she said, “I loved it. I think Tom is a genius, almost. I want to give credit — Tom Hanks has gotten lots and lots of good press and he deserves every bit of it.”MORE NEWS: Kennywood's Jack Rabbit Roller Coaster Gets Squeaky Clean During Offseason
Joanne is survived by two sons.