Did you know Fred Rogers personally?
I got to know Fred personally when I met him in 1953. He took a keen interest in my well being, making sure I was not left alone too often & that my school work was being taken care of. Fred & Joanne were kind enough to have invited me to the home of Fred’s parents in Latrobe one day. It is a day I will never forget as the house was so beautiful and the grounds so spacious. Fred & I became very good friends and remained so throughout his entire life.
What impact, direct or indirect, did Fred Rogers have on your life?
I recall sitting in Fred’s office at WQED, just after I began my daily chores as office boy at the station. He & I talked at length about the various paths I might take in order to further my deep interest in TV. Fred explained in detail the routine he followed while working at NBC in NY as a stage manager on many of the top TV programs back in the early ’50’s. Through Fred & connections he made for me in NY, I was able to secure a position at NBC in their news department.
There will never be another Fred Rogers. All that I have today I owe to him, for having given me the chance of a lifetime to have been able to have worked beside him.
Which of Fred’s messages do you think are most important to pass along to the children of today?
From all of the many years I knew Fred & had the chance to spend in his company, he always led me to believe that he was sincerely interested in me and what I was trying to do in life. Fred always went beyond just talking to me as a friend & mentor, but seemed to sense my true insecurities as I was in many ways like him growing up…a very shy and sensitive kid. He always instilled in me a true feeling of support, love & encouragement and often told me how proud he was of all of my achievements throughout the years.
Children of today must have someone like Fred who stands behind them to offer that support, love, & encouragement. It is something that both my wife & I have tried to do in raising our 3 boys. It’s been tough at times, but having been touched by Fred Rogers in so many ways has given me something that’s been very precious to me. That’s the message I’m sure Fred would have wanted to pass along to the children of today.