Fred McFeely Rogers (March 20, 1928 – February 27, 2003) was an American television personality, educator, Presbyterian minister, composer, songwriter, author, and activist. Rogers was most famous for creating, hosting, and composing the theme music for the educational preschool television series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood (1968–2001), which featured his gentle, soft-spoken personality and directness to his audiences.
Initially educated to be a minister, Rogers was displeased with the way television addressed children and made an effort to change this when he began to write for and perform on local Pittsburgh-area shows dedicated to youth. WQED developed his own show in 1968 and it was distributed nationwide by Eastern Educational Television Network. Over the course of three decades on television, Fred Rogers became an indelible American icon of children’s entertainment and education, as well as a symbol of compassion, patience, and morality. He was also known for his advocacy of various public causes. His testimony before a lower court in favor of fair use recording of television shows to play at another time (now known as time shifting) was cited in a U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Betamax case, and he gave now-famous testimony to a U.S. Senate committee, advocating government funding for children’s television.
Rogers received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, some forty honorary degrees, and a Peabody Award. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, was recognized by two Congressional resolutions, and was ranked No. 35 among TV Guide’s Fifty Greatest TV Stars of All Time. Several buildings and artworks in Pennsylvania are dedicated to his memory, and the Smithsonian Institution displays one of his trademark sweaters as a “Treasure of American History”.
Rogers was born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, 40 miles (65 km) southeast of Pittsburgh, to James and Nancy Rogers; he had one sister, Elaine. Early in life he spent much of his free time with his maternal grandfather, Fred McFeely, who had an interest in music. He would often sing along as his mother would play the piano and he himself began playing at five.
Rogers graduated from Latrobe High School (1946). He studied at Dartmouth College (1946–48), then transferred to Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where he earned a B.A. in Music Composition in 1951. Rogers was also a trained general aviation pilot. 
At Rollins, he met Sara Joanne Byrd, an Oakland, Florida native; they married on June 9, 1952. They had two sons, James (b. 1959) and John (b. 1961). In 1963, Rogers graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and was ordained a minister in the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A..
Rogers had an apartment in New York City and a summer home on Nantucket island in Massachusetts. Rogers was red–green color blind, swam every morning, and neither smoked nor drank. He was a vegetarian on ethical grounds, stating “I don’t want to eat anything that has a mother.” Despite recurring rumors, he never served in the military.
His office at WQED Pittsburgh famously did not have a desk, only sofa chairs, because Rogers thought a desk was “too much of a barrier”.