The Sweet Way Mr. Rogers Proposed to His Wife
Fred Rogers, known as Mr. Rogers has captivated the hearts of many. From his children’s TV show to his everyday life, he was said to be the same warm figure you saw onscreen. So, of course, his wife Joanne Rogers has the sweetest story about how the late PBS legend proposed to her.
Fred Rogers and Sara Joanne Byrd met at Florida’s Rollins College in 1948 when Rogers transferred from Dartmouth College into the same music composition course. They parted ways after graduation, keeping in touch via mail while Rogers went to New York City to work for NBC and she pursued her master’s degree at Florida State University.
Two years into a more casual, long-distance relationship, Fred’s mother found out that Joanne was potentially seeing someone else. This was her last year at Florida State. He sent a letter proposing marriage. Did it seem sudden? Sara Joanne Rogers has said, “Yes, it surprised me, in some ways. I was surprised at the timing…But I don’t think I was very surprised otherwise…I think in some ways, we were both not surprised.” They both felt it was right. The second she got the letter, she ran to a payphone and accepted his proposal.
The two married in 1952 and celebrated their 50 years of marriage at the White House. That same day Fred Rogers was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He almost didn’t accept the award, telling the White House correspondent, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I won’t be able to make it. That’s our 50th wedding anniversary.” Thankfully his family, Mrs. Rogers and their two sons, John and James were invited as well.
Rogers later started working in children’s television, first on the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. show “Miste Rogers” and later in Pittsburgh in Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, one of the most beloved children’s shows ever. It ran for 31 seasons with almost a thousand episodes, teaching children how to deal with real-life issues through a lens of kindness and creativity.
Fred Rogers passed of stomach cancer in 2003 at the age of 74. Since then many accolades have continued to follow him. Pittsburgh declared World Kindness Day as “Cardigan Day” in November. The film “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” starring Tom Hank was released at the end of last year.
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