Thursday, February 27, 2003


"At the center of the universe is a loving heart that continues to beat and that wants the best for every person. Anything we can do to help foster the intellect and spirit and emotional growth of our fellow human beings, that is our job. Those of us who have this particular vision must continue against all odds. Life is for service." --Fred Rogers

It's a Sad Day in the Neighborhood

"When I think about heaven, it is a state in which we are so greatly loved that there is no fear and doubt and disillusionment and anxiety. It is where people really do look at you with those eyes of Jesus." --Fred Rogers

Fred McFeely Rogers, the host of public t.v.'s children's progam "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," who for 30 years practically turned kind-and-gentle into an art form, passed away today after a bout with stomach cancer. He was 74.

In 1968, Rogers, an openly avid Christian and an ordained Presbyterian minister who was greatly influenced by Catholic contemplative theologian and psychologist Fr. Henri Nouwen while studying early child development at the University of Pittsburgh, wanted to use television to encourage pre-school children to love themselves and others. His goal was to inspire in them the virtues of selflessness, tolerance, and respect for everyone around them in order to help them grow into happy and well-adjusted community-and-family-oriented adults. To that end, he composed and sang simple songs and created colorful puppet characters for the often funny scripts he wrote, stories and dialogues which usually included lessons about sharing, or honesty, or patience, or dealing with fear or anger.

During the Persian Gulf War, Rogers assured his young audience that "all children shall be well taken care of" and asked their parents to repeatedly tell them that they would always be safe. After the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Rogers recorded public service announcements telling parents how to help their children deal with the attacks. He also advised parents against letting young children watch replays of the attacks because, he noted, "they might think it's happening at that moment."

Throughout his career, Rogers, by all accounts a naturally soft-spoken and gentle man, made a point of being himself both on screen and off. His soothing voice and kindly demeanor made him such a hit with the youngsters who watched him that most remained fans as adults with young children of their own.

Fred Rogers had a very positive influence on millions of children since 1968, many of whom are now loving and committed parents. Few have left better legacies than that.

Thanks, Mister Rogers. You were special just the way you were.


To read more about Fred Rogers' life and career, go to this page at his Family Communications web site.

In its March 6, 2002 issue, Christianity Today published its cover story on Fred Rogers and how he communicated his faith and Christian values through his t.v. show.

See also Focus on the Family's tribute to Fred Rogers.

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