Fred Rogers, hosted the public television show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" for more than 30 years, from 1968 to 2000, died of cancer on February 27, 2003, aged 74.
Rogers composed over 200 songs for the show including the classic "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood," and presented the show in a set made to look like his living room, wearing sneakers and a zip-up cardigan.
He had a loving heartfelt message; he inspired children to love themselves and love others. On each show, he would take children on a magical trolley ride into the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, where his puppet creations would interact with each other and adults.
Rogers was born in Latrobe, 30 miles southeast of Pittsburgh. He was ordained in 1963 with a charge to continue his work with children and families through television.
He studied early childhood development at the University of Pittsburgh's graduate school and consulted for decades with the late Dr. Margaret McFarland, an eminent child development expert at the university.
Rogers' show won four Emmy Awards, plus one for lifetime achievement. And honorary degrees from over 40 universities and colleges. He was given a George Foster Peabody Award in 1993, "in recognition of 25 years of beautiful days in the neighborhood." The show's ratings peaked in 1985-86 when about 8 percent of all U.S. households with televisions tuned in.
Rogers taught children life lessons like how to share, and how to deal with anger or fear. During the Persian Gulf War, Rogers told youngsters that "all children shall be well taken care of in this neighborhood and beyond - in times of war and in times of peace," and he asked parents to promise their children they would always be safe.
Rogers came out of broadcasting retirement in 2002 to record four public service announcements for the Public Broadcasting Service telling parents how to help their children deal with the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
He was simply a sincerely warm, kind, loving individual.
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