He was known for his zip-up cardigan sweaters and worn tennis shoes. His manner was gentle and reassuring. Millions of young children grew up watching Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, including our own generation, and his death last Thursday came as a shock to all those who loved and knew him.
“I grew up watching him,” Elizabeth Reese, sophomore, said. “It was very sad to hear he died because you don’t expect people you grew up watching to die.”
Rogers died last Thursday in his Pittsburgh home after fighting against stomach cancer for a short time. He was 74.
“I felt bad about his death, although I didn’t watch the show,” Mohammed al Saegh, sophomore, said.
Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood has been described by many as a children’s television show that redefined the children’s television industry. The show was produced at Pittsburgh’s public television station, WQED. It was first broadcast in 1966.
At the beginning of each show, Rogers would step into his television living room, pull out a sweater and slip into a pair of tennis shoes, all the while singing, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,” his signature song. This is how many remember him.
In his personal life, Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister who genuinely cared about children. A recurring theme on his show was that every child is special and unique.
Some students describe Rogers as a comforting voice to many children, primarily because he addressed many issues on his show like death and divorce – something that many kids have a hard time understanding and parents have a hard time explaining.
“I watched the show religiously,” Grace Salisbury, sophomore, said. “He was like a father figure.”
Throughout the decades, Rogers earned five Emmys, two Peabody Awards and, more recently, the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his work.
Although Rogers was an American television figure and icon, those who did not grow up watching him still know who he was and what he did.
“I grew up in another country, but even I know who Mr. Rogers is,” Reem Alkhaledi, sophomore, said. “I know he has influenced the youth of this country in many ways.”
The last episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood was taped in December 2000 and aired August 2001.
“I hope other people will produce shows like his, with a similar concept,” Silvia Guzman, junior, said.
The legacy of Mr. Rogers will live on as the show continues to air on more than 300 channels throughout the world.
For more information, visit http://pbskids.org/rogers.
Angelique Thomas can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org