For Rogers’ widowed wife Joanne, it’s quite obvious that her husband could never be replaced. They had a successful marriage based upon love and mutual respect that spanned an impressive 50-years. She has opened up in recent years about what kept their marriage going on the right track for so long.
This video is a must-watch for anyone in a relationship. Sure, the times have changed, but the principles remain the same. Her message is more important than ever, and is sure to inspire any fan of Mister Rogers.
Mister Rogers Made Its Debut in 1968
And the show ran for 31 years – a feat that few series can claim. The last episode aired in 2001, and when we saw him hang up his sweater for the last time, it felt like a part of our hearts was walking off into the sunset. For decades Rogers entertained us with his simple moral tales, puppetry, and lighthearted music.
He did the bulk of the work himself. He was a man of many talents but most importantly, he had a heart full of love.
He was so gentle and relentlessly charming – and he aged like fine wine. He taught us what it meant to be empathetic, to push through negative emotions like fear and anger, and to build community. Love and respect was his mantra and back in the day, nearly 8 percent of the country tuned in on a regular basis.
His Marriage Outlasted His Career
Even though Rogers’ television career stretched across nearly a half-century, his marriage lasted longer than that. Even after his passing, his wife Joanne made sure that his legacy was not forgotten. In addition to bringing continued awareness to causes that both she and Rogers held in common, she has also touched on what exactly was the magic that kept their marriage together. How did they manage to remain best friends for so many years? The truth is sure to touch your heart, inspire you, and leave you feeling hopeful for your own future relationships.
There is a lot of talk these days about ‘relationship goals’, but if there was one couple to look at as an example of a happy, healthy bond worth taking notes from, it was the Rogers’.
It Was Love At First Sight
The duo first met back in 1948. Rogers’ was about to change schools. He was attending Dartmouth at the time but made the decision to transfer to Rollins College in Florida. During the transition, he met with a group of Rollins students to make sure the move was the right one. One of those friendly folks was Joanne.
The two knew immediately that they had some undeniable chemistry. Rogers went ahead with the transfer and their relationship began to take root.
It started off as a cautious friendship. Joanne recalls that they didn’t do much traditional dating, but more so Rogers, herself, and their friends ran around as a group. But the two certainly enjoyed each other’s company immensely. They knew deep down inside that they would prove to be extremely important to each other’s lives.
The two continued to hang out with each other at Rollins college. They loved to dance. Joanne remembers that her husband-to-be was a fantastic dancer. She would ask him to her sorority dances and he’d bring her to his fraternity dances – their relationship continued to blossom.
They Were Pulled Apart
Like so many young romances, the two were unfortunately pulled apart by conflicting circumstances. Joanne completed her schooling at Rollins and went on to Florida State in Tallahassee to complete her masters. That was some 200 miles away.
So just like that, Rogers and Joanne were separated by academia and physical distance. Some couples wouldn’t have survived that – and they weren’t even a couple yet.
Rogers, however, wasn’t just about to let that happen – although he had no plan just yet as to how to get her back in his life. A few more events would have to play out. When he completed his studies at Rollins college in 1951, Joanne came to visit for his graduation.
From there, Rogers made the move to New York City where he had a job waiting for him working for NBC. Joanne continued her studies in Tallahassee. It still looked pretty bleak for the two’s relationship.
Reunited – And It Feels So Good
Rogers’ Family was from Latrobe, Pennsylvanian – not terribly far from the Big Apple. Sometimes they would vacation down in Florida. So when his family decided to take a Holiday down in the Sunshine State, Rogers’ seized the opportunity to meet up with his prospective love.
Or rather, it was Joanne’s idea to meet up with the vacationing family, although she came accompanied by another man – much to the alarm of Rogers. She was with her graduate instructor’s son and that proved to be the motivation Rogers needed for the letter he would send Joanne shortly thereafter.
To be fair, Rogers was seeing other girls at the time as well, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something so special about Joanne. He couldn’t stop thinking about her, so in 1952 he sent her a monumental piece of correspondence. In the letter, he asked for Joanne’s hand in marriage.
Granted, today, that might scare the heck out of some girls. Some might even call it some kind of red flag, but their love was true. Not only were these times more innocent, but Rogers and Joanne knew deep down in their hearts that they had something between them that they had never experienced in anyone else. That spark would be the seed that would take root and grow into the fruitful marriage that was to come.
Joanne Gives Rogers Her Answer
She had no doubt in her heart as to how she would reply. She loved him deeply and knew that she wanted to spend the rest of her life with him. She ran to the closest telephone booth that she could find immediately after reading his letter. She didn’t want to keep him waiting.
Apparently she was so nervous when she made the call that she accidentally blurted out some rather obscene graffiti that was written in the booth instead of saying hello.
Rogers no doubt was confused as can be but Joanne still managed to muster up the courage to accept the proposal as the tears of joy rolled down her blushing rosy cheeks.
And So Began A Happy Marriage
Three months later, the couple was wed thus beginning a cherished bond that would be carefully protected by both parties for the rest of their lives.
Their marriage was also fruitful, as we already mentioned. They had two sons and two grandchildren throughout the 50 years that they were together – not to mention the countless memories and photographs that they no-doubt amassed in each other’s company.
More About Joanne
Sara Joanne Byrd – as she was born – was a successful individual on her own as well. She took what she learned in college and became a concert pianist. She also became a prominent member of the board of trustees at Rollins College.
She knows that to the world, she will always be Mr. Rogers’ wife. She lovingly supported her husband for so many years and never resented his success, but she too was a very talented and unique individual in her own right.
It wasn’t always easy to live in the public’s line of sight. She once told reporters that she often wished that she could do things impulsively, but she would refrain out of respect for her husband and his image. Sometimes it was difficult to live under such expectations but she never let Fred down.
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Stick around to see what was probably the biggest reason why Fred and Joanne had such a healthy relationship. It’s going to warm your heart for sure.
The Ties That Bind
In addition to knowing, accepting, and living their roles within their marriage, there was another element that kept the flame alive in their romance. They both had a huge sense of humor. They laughed as often as they could with each other. It was this joy that kept the couple constantly smiling even though the trials and tribulations, the good times and the difficult ones.
They also had open, honest communication. They always felt free to discuss their feelings with each other. Even when he was young, Rogers’ would open up, get vulnerable, and tell his wife how he felt. A relationship can’t be built upon secrets.
Rogers wasn’t afraid of embracing his emotions. He wasn’t too prideful to shed a tear either. He was a sensitive man that was very much so in touch with himself. Joanne Described her husband as a “liberated man”. He could care less about how society thought he should act or behave. He was always just going to be as genuinely himself as he could be.
They Waited Before They Had Kids
Instead of diving headfirst into the baby-making waters as soon as they said their ‘I do”s, they gave their marriage a little bit of time. They wanted to make sure that their marriage was built on solid ground before they started to bring kids into the world.
In fact, they waited all of 7 years. When they were ready, they knew they were ready. And by that time the two already knew each other on a very deep level.
They Hardly Ever Got Angry At Each Other
You can probably attribute it to the open communication, but the two rarely if ever got into any kind of fight.
Although there is one regret that Joanne had about their communication style. When they would get a little annoyed at each other, they would just both get quiet. It wasn’t that they felt like they couldn’t express themselves, but they were very considerate of each other’s feelings.
Joanne told the LA times that sometimes ‘it’s good to yell’
But from the sound of things, their lack of dramatic outbursts didn’t cause them much trouble.
She Got Involved In His Work
In the early days of the show, she voiced some of the puppets and characters in her husband’s show. The puppet Queen Sara was actually named after her and she would later play piano for the show, Over the years, the couples 2 sons would also make appearances on the show as well.
They Kept It Simple
Despite becoming famous and recognized by all, Joanne and Fred insisted upon living a modestly frugal life. Rogers never wanted to get rich off the show.
Fred drove a used car, they bought most of their furniture from thrift stores. They made no attempt at a lavish life of luxury. They knew that the pursuit of money and things would only leave them feeling empty. Family meant more to them than any of the world’s riches.
It was love that kept the couple’s relationship going more than anything else. Fred’s favorite number was 143 – which was a coded way of saying I (one) Love (four) You (Three). Some might even say that he was made of love. It was the single greatest driving force in his life as well as in Joanne and his marriage.
Now we’d love to hear from you. If you became famous, would you want to live a simple life like Fred Rogers did, or would you rather live a life of luxury and excess? Let us know what you think in the comments section. And don’t forget to give us a like and subscribe to our channel before you move on to something else.