Fred Rogers, better known as the friendly Mister Rogers, died early Thursday of cancer. He was 74.
Family spokesman David Newell, who played Mr. McFeely on the show, said Rogers had been diagnosed with stomach cancer sometime after the holidays, the Associated Press reports.
“He was so genuinely, genuinely kind, a wonderful person,” Newell said. “His mission was to work with families and children for television. … That was his passion, his mission, and he did it from day one.”
For more than 30 years, Rogers was host of the children’s show, “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Everyday, he would invite viewers to be his neighbor, while singing, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood,” from his living room.
He taped his final episode in December of 2000, and it aired in August of 2001. PBS continues airing reruns.
“For more than thirty years, Mister Rogers has offered children a place where they feel accepted and understood. He spoke directly to children, and they listened. He nurtured creativity, self-esteem, curiosity, and self- discipline, and his profound contributions will live on, as will the spirit of the man who created them,” said Pat Mitchell, CEO and President of PBS.
Rogers is survived by his wife, Joanne, two sons, and two grandsons.