Fred McFeely Rogers ’51
At Rollins, Fred not only proved himself a gifted and serious student in music, but also acquired and practiced his skills in performing arts. On January 29, 1949, he and Joanne won the Lambda Chi costume contest dressed as Raggedy Ann and Andy. In the following year, he was recognized as the sensational “Mystery Man” of the Independent Men’s Open House. He also appeared in several productions at the Annie Russell Theatre, where he once shared the stage with another well-known classmate, actor Anthony Perkins ’54 ’82H.
Fred McFeely Rogers ’51 ’74H, everyone’s favorite neighbor and the creator and host of the children’s television program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, is one of Rollins’ most beloved alumni.
There are two marble plaques mounted since the 1930s along the covered walkway on both sides of Mills Lawn: MANNERS MAKETH MAN and LIFE IS FOR SERVICE. The first carving is by the entrance to Lyman Hall, Fred’s dormitory while living on campus. The second inscription was one of the inspirations that greatly influenced his life and career decisions, as he later carried the laminated quote in his wallet. In 1968, while reminiscing about his student years, Mr. Rogers stated in the Rollins Alumni Record: “Everything I ever learned at Rollins has helped me in my work… So many of my particular ‘neighborhood’ at Rollins helped me to see more clearly than ever that education is a process. One learns from within not as something is superimposed from without. It takes a long time to grow. I’m glad that there are still some schools which allow their students ample opportunities for developing their own unique identities.”
Rollins’ Walk of Fame is a semi-circular pathway around Mills Lawn and a celebrated cultural attraction lined with stones. During the 1991 alumni reunion weekend, 40 years after his graduation, Fred Rogers laid his stone in the Walk with the inscription: “Fred McFeely Rogers; 1951; Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” On Friday, March 8, President Rita Bornstein led the public ceremony with hundreds of children and their parents crowded around the center of campus, just outside Lyman Hall, his old dormitory at Rollins.