To those who knew Mr. Rogers – his fans, his family and friends, knew that he is a very positive person. This children’s show personality was currently the subject of a documentary entitled, ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor?’ This is why more and more people became interested with the man behind ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.’
His widow recently shared some very interesting details about his life that fans might not be aware of.
Fred and Joanne Rogers were happily married for more than 5 decades until he passed away in 2003. He was 74 at that time and through the years, the couple shared love and compassion for each other. Just he was on screen, Mr. Rogers was a very loving husband behind the scenes.
Joanne who is now 90 years old is still helping to promote the documentary about her late husband. She was invited by the Today show to talk about the documentary and they also had some questions about Fred.
She shared that Fred proposed to her after he moved from Florida to New York. She said that how he approached her was unique but it was what they needed at that time given their distance. She said, “He wrote me a letter. My last year at Florida State, he wrote me a letter proposing marriage.”
Of course, how can she possibly say no to that? She also shared his obsession with the number 143. She explained that those numbers represent the weight that he wants to maintain all his life. “-all of his adult life, I should say. Especially after he started swimming; he swam every day.” She continued, “He was very pleased when he would get out of swimming, go and get on the scale: 143. One was I, 4 was L-O-V-E, 3 was Y-O-U. He had enough love to go around.”
According to Joanne, no one can also build a friendship without being able to do what her late husband did. “And don’t you have to have a friendship to fall back on in your married life? We had it for 50 years. That was nice,” she added.
Joanne also shared Fred’s final days before he passed away fighting with stomach cancer. She said that at some point, there was a feeling of relief when she could finally say to him that they are going to be just fine. That their kids will be alright and she is going to be fine too. “So when he went, I could feel he went at peace and even with joy. I really feel he went with joy.”
Joanne also explained that Fred wanted to share how important acceptance and inclusivity is with his viewers. On one of the episodes, he even asked the person with the character of Officer Clemmons to dip his feet into his kiddie pool. Take note that during this time, while people do not allow African Americans in their swimming pools. To keep them out, they pour acid and anything bad and Fred knew all about this. And that episode had something to do with that.
Fred Rogers will always be remembered as the man who captured the hearts of kids and adults alike, all around the nation. And Joanne could have never been prouder of her late husband.