Not long ago, CNN.com posted “15 Reasons Mr. Rogers was the Best Neighbor, ever.” I was especially struck by these:
Even Koko the Gorilla loved him. Most people have heard of Koko, the Stanford-educated gorilla who could speak about 1000 words in American Sign Language, and understand about 2000 in English.
What most people don’t know, however, is that Koko was an avid Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood fan. As Esquire reported, when Fred Rogers took a trip out to meet Koko for his show, not only did she immediately wrap her arms around him and embrace him, she did what she’d always seen him do onscreen: she proceeded to take his shoes off!
He made thieves think twice. According to a TV Guide piece on him, Fred Rogers drove a plain old Impala for years. One day, however, the car was stolen from the street near the TV station. When Rogers filed a police report, the story was picked up by every newspaper, radio and media outlet around town.
Amazingly, within 48 hours the car was left in the exact spot where it was taken from, with an apology on the dashboard. It read, “If we’d known it was yours, we never would have taken it.”
You really need to go read the whole list. He was an amazing person.
Fred Rogers was a graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and an ordained Presbyterian minister. In fact, his presbytery ordained him to work in children’s ministry, his daily television program being the bulk of that ministry.
Although Mr. Rogers died several years ago, his program has continued on PBS in reruns.
In June 2008, the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) announced that it intends to change the way Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the beloved children’s television program, is distributed to member stations. PBS will cease transmitting the program as part of their daily syndicated lineup beginning in September. Instead, PBS will provide member stations with a single Neighborhood episode on weekends.
A group of parents has been organized to keep Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on the air. You can check it out here.