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Mister Rogers' Widow Dead at 92

Joanne Rogers was an accomplished concert pianist
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 15, 2021 12:10 AM CST

(Newser) – Joanne Rogers, an accomplished concert pianist who celebrated and protected the legacy of her husband, the beloved children's TV host Mister Rogers, has died in Pittsburgh, the AP reports. She was 92. Rogers died Thursday, according to the Fred Rogers Center. No cause of death was given. The center called her “a joyful and tender-hearted spirit, whose heart and wisdom have guided our work in service of Fred’s enduring legacy.” Joanne and Fred Rogers were married for more than 50 years, spanning the launch and end of the low-key, low-tech Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, which presented Fred Rogers as one adult in a busy world who always had time to listen to children. His pull as America’s favorite neighbor never seemed to wane before his death in 2003. They are survived by two sons, James Byrd Rogers and John Rogers.

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The city of Pittsburgh, where the show was produced, tweeted that Joanne Rogers was one of Pittsburgh's "greatest neighbors." It said the couple "forever changed our city." Other tributes came from such varied fans as tennis star Billie Jean King and designer Kenneth Cole. Born Sara Joanne Byrd in 1928, Joanne Rogers met her future husband at Rollins College in Florida. After Fred Rogers’ death, she helped develop the Fred Rogers Center Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at St. Vincent College in his hometown of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. "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," Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said in a statement.

(Read more Fred Rogers stories.)

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