Fred Rogers‘ widow, Joanne Rogers, has passed away at the age of 92.
On Thursday, Jan. 14, Fred Rogers Productions released a statement announcing Joanne’s death.
“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,” it read. “Joanne was a brilliant and accomplished musician, a wonderful advocate for the arts, and a dear friend to everyone in our organization.”
The statement concluded, “We extend our heartfelt condolences to Joanne’s family and the thousands of people who had the privilege of knowing and loving her.”
Though Joanne is more commonly recognized as the wife of Mister Rogers, she was a famous figure in her own right, releasing two classical piano music albums. In November 2019, her and Fred’s son Jim told The New York Times, “She was always able to be Joanne Rogers as opposed to Mrs. Fred Rogers… She has always been her own person.”
Following her husband’s death from stomach cancer in 2003, Joanne carried on his legacy through the Fred Rogers Productions, which the New York Times previously described as a non-profit dedicated to creating children’s media content.
She was also a familiar figure on the set of the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which starred Tom Hanks as the beloved children’s show host.
There was perhaps no one who knew Mister Rogers better than Joanne, who was by his side from the moment they married in 1952, until his death at their Pittsburgh home on Feb. 27, 2003. It’s for this reason Joanne was so confident in saying her husband was not the saint he was made out to be after his death, and that anyone can be as kind as he was, even if it seems impossible.
She told The Los Angeles Times in 2019, “He’s out there now as somebody who’s somehow way above all the rest of us… People invariably say, ‘Well, I can’t do that, but I sure do admire him. I would love to do it.’ Well, you can do it. I’m convinced there are lots of Fred Rogerses out there.”
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Joanne and Mister Rogers’ message of kindness is carried on by their two sons, Jim and John.