Parents are like the shuttles on a loom. They join the threads of the past with the threads of the future and leave their own bright patterns as they go.Fred Rogers
fred mcfeely rogers was born on March 20, 1928, in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. He and his sister, Nancy Elaine “Laney” Rogers, were the children of Nancy McFeely Rogers, a dedicated community volunteer, and James Hillis Rogers, a prominent Latrobe industrialist.
They were a close-knit, loving, and philanthropic family. They embraced the traditional values espoused by the Scotch-Irish Presbyterianism of Western Pennsylvania: frugality, hard work, generosity, care for one's neighbors, and humility. His parents, Fred and his sister, and their extended families were, and still remain, through the McFeely-Rogers Foundation, deeply engaged in improving the quality of life in the Latrobe community. From the Latrobe Area Hospital, Saint Vincent College, and Latrobe Presbyterian Church to Latrobe's parks and recreation program, Red Cross chapter, library, and the Greater Latrobe School District, the Rogers family has always had a keen interest in, and an abiding love for, Latrobe.
Fred's love of music began at the age of five, when he started playing the piano. He impressed his family with his ability to play by ear and became a very accomplished pianist. Fred was always able to express his feelings on the piano, and often said, “That's when I discovered the real power of music.”
Because Fred had severe allergies as a child, he would spend time in his air-conditioned room with neighborhood friends, making up skits, playing with puppets, and engaging in other creative fun. Annual winter vacations were spent in Clearwater, Florida, where Fred learned to swim; throughout his life, swimming remained a daily ritual.
The Rogers family was social and gregarious by nature. On Christmas Eve, they invited the entire community to their open house, and their home was always filled with friends and neighbors. Among these beloved guests were Dr. Clifford E. Barbour and Dr. Jarvis Cotton of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Dr. Cotton became an important mentor to Fred and was instrumental in Fred's decision, later in his life, to attend the Seminary.
Fred often said, "I loved going to school in Latrobe, where we had outstanding teachers." He enjoyed reading and learning, and deeply admired Miss Sara McComb, Latrobe's librarian, "...who encouraged our love of books." He never forgot the dedicated teachers at the Second Ward Elementary School, where he sang in the choir and played the organ brought from home for assemblies and on holidays.
Fred was popular and active at Latrobe High School, where he participated in plays, was a member of the National Honor Society, received awards for oratorical and extemporaneous speaking, and was president of the student council and editor of the Latrobean, the school yearbook.
Fred’s years growing up in the small town of Latrobe, surrounded by family and friends, formed the basis of what was to become his life’s work. Empathy, the intense resonance of location, personal experience, and creative expression all made their way into Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which is described in Neighborhood publications as “a place where friends help friends find the courage to grow.”
Reflecting in later years on the influence of his early experiences, Fred wrote, “The child is in me still…and sometimes not so still.”