Missing a Good Neighbor

Fred McFeely Rogers passed away 8 years ago on February 27, 2003. He hosted a children’s television show on PBS for 33 years. You probably know him best as that show’s eponymous host, Mr. Rogers.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is a vivid shared memory for many in my generation. I cannot look at a crayon or a shoe without recalling the process to manufacture either as shown to me by Picture-Picture. Fred Rogers himself existed as a trusted “neighbor” and friend to so many of us growing up. He built a world we could visit for 30 minutes a day to learn, play, and make believe. He encouraged artistry, science, and imagination. Most important, he taught us we are each special in our own way and encouraged us to be proud of our differences.

Decades later, watching his show with my daughter, I was amazed how he addressed tough issues like divorce and death. He did so without the nervousness most adults approach such topics with children. No topic was off limits. He spoke to us plainly and clearly. On the first anniversary of the September 11 tragedy, I admit I took comfort in his special words, reminding children that the images they would undoubtedly see that day did not mean that day was happening all over again.

In the pantheon of childhood heroes, Mr. Rogers stands as a beacon of kindness and integrity. He led by example. Stories told by those who knew him in everyday life reinforce that he really was the kind and caring man who loved you just the way you are.

Fred Rogers’ Guest Book still receives regular entries and when I am having a tough day, I read the thoughts of others who share my feelings:

  • You were the person I looked up to when I was growing up in New York. You showed me how to be gentle. How to have compassion and how to keep a level head. I can remember listening to the news and hearing of your passing. I sat there and said, “that is the person who me how to tie my shoes” . I cried and said, god bless Mr. Rogers. I’ll miss you as long as I live. I hope that we can meet some day.
  • I learned to begin loving myself because of Mister Rogers. Children of abuse find it difficult to understand that everyone is special. Mister Rogers told us all that, every day, and meant it. I met him once and I’ll never forget the way he listened intently to me. He is a continuing inspiration to me.
  • Mr. Rogers was my parent’s neighbor, and when my brothers and I were growing up in the 80′s he visited us every day. I even kept in touch well into my teens, especially on the days I was out of school. Now I have two young boys of my own and they’re just meeting Mr. Rogers for the first time. He was a wonderful influence and touched so many millions of people. I still cry a little to this day… four years hasn’t been long enough to fill the little gap he left in my heart. I learned how to tie my shoes, how to make believe, how crayons were made, how to be good to others and be a better person and so much more. I love you Mister Rogers and I will always miss you.

While I am sure Fred Rogers would tell us he was lucky for the opportunity to influence so many lives, he would also remind us to remember those close to us who played a part in shaping the way that we see the world, and how we treat each other. Legacy.com is honored to host millions of Guest Books that serve a similar purpose for the loved ones of those that have passed on.

About Erin

I joined Legacy.com in 2005 as a part-time content screener. I moved to the customer service team in 2007 and shortly thereafter added client service to my arsenal (working with newspaper affiliates and funeral home partners). In 2009, I was honored with the position of Client Support Manager, overseeing both customer and client support. This position allows me to be involved in a little bit of everything here at Legacy. I get to solve mysteries, help clients, advocate for customers and no two days are the same. In my free time, I enjoy traveling (often preferring the journey to the destination), cooking, and spending time with my husband and daughter.
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