It was very sad to learn that Fred Rogers died overnight. (The New York Times detailed obituary.) Growing up, I watched a lot of television and I loved watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood because of its stability as well as this magical element of discovery - whether it be with the Land of Make Believe or just taking ordinary things and seeing them in news ways. Mr. Rogers was wonderfully patient teacher, and gave kids the opportunity to absorb the little moments - a wonderful counterpoint to the noisy and hedonistic in comparison chaos of The Electric Company. Also, having the Land of Make-Believe gave kids more encouragement to dream and imagine; my favorite in the Land of Make-Believe was Daniel Tiger.
The announcement of his death from his own website. News that Mr. Rogers was retiring was shocking because he had been there for so many children for so long, that it had been taken for granted he would be always be there to see generation of children grow up on his program, but he already has, after 30 plus years of programs, that live on in syndication. This Salon "Brilliant Careers" profile by Joyce Millman is a wonderful primer on the truly brilliant career of Fred Rogers.
An FAQ about Mr. Rogers. A PDF from Crayola - Mr. Rogers made the 100 billionth Crayola crayon in 1996. It was his visit to the crayon factory that inspired my interest in understanding how things get, how things get from point A to B, and explaining to people very clearly so they can understand.
As one of the first known children's advocates to explain divorce to children, Mr. Rogers left his mark on me: When I was four, my father left for a many-month business trip to Egypt (where my mom would follow him later for the last month). I told my mom not to worry, that I would help her find a new husband, and above all, Mr. Rogers told me that their divorce was not my fault. Mr. Rogers made me a trouper, if a misguided one.
Get a Mr. Rogers "You are Special" t-shirt, which I'm sure is supposed to be ironic but would be a nice tribute to a very nice man.
Finally, listen to Mr. Rogers' self-penned songs like "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" and "It's Such a Good Feeling".