Pittsburgh has lost one of its most beloved neighbors.
Joanne Rogers, a pianist and widow of children’s television pioneer Fred Rogers, died on Jan. 14 in her Squirrel Hill home surrounded by loved ones. She was 92.
Since her husband’s death in 2003, she worked tirelessly to carry on his legacy of kindness. Although born and raised in Florida, where she met Fred at Rollins College, Joanne was a Pittsburgher at heart.
In a Facebook post, WQED Pittsburgh called her “a brilliant and accomplished musician, a wonderful advocate for the arts and a dear friend to everyone in our organization.”
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto issued this statement:
Tree of Life recently named Joanne an honorary cabinet member in the congregation’s upcoming campaign, REMEMBER. REBUILD. RENEW.
Synagogue leaders took to Facebook last night to comment on her passing:
“Joanne Rogers was a light to our community and we extend our sincere condolences and prayers to all who mourn her passing. Joanne lived by a set of shared values that set an example for our neighborhood in Pittsburgh and extended to millions around the world.”
Bishop David Zubik issued the following words:
“Mrs. Rogers was a wonderful servant of the Lord, committed to helping people realize God’s love through consistent good works in our communities. She had a beautiful ability to make everyone in her presence feel valued. I was blessed to be in her company on a number of occasions. I pray that we all can find ways to honor the legacy of Joanne and her beloved ‘Mr. Rogers’ through showing kindness and compassion in our own neighborhoods and beyond.”
Publications across the globe also are celebrating her life.
Marielle Heller, director of the Fred Rogers biopic “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” starring Tom Hanks as the cardigan-clad television host, told Entertainment Weekly, “She was pure joy … You say ‘pure’ and it’s the same thing as what I feel about Fred. People somehow think that means he wasn’t real if he was kind. But she was so real, so human, so down-to-earth, so with you.”
But sometimes, an image says more than an article. AndrogynArt posted this touching tribute entitled “Hello, Neighbor” on Instagram.