Fred McFeely Rogers, 74, host of TV's Mister Rogers' NeighborhoodFred McFeely Rogers, 74, host of TV’s Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, died February 27, 2003 of stomach cancer

Sometimes it takes a crisis or loss to uncover the natural bond we have with strangers. But for Mr. Rogers, the connection was natural and heartfelt. The world was his ‘neighborhood’.

For a 1998 Esquire cover story, Can You Say, HERO? Fred Rogers allowed the author to follow him around for a week. Mr. Rogers — described as being “in a perpetual state of astonishment ” — said to the writer, “The connections we make in the course of life – Maybe that’s what Heaven is! We make so many connections here on earth. Look at us: I’ve just met you, but I’m invested in who you are and who you will be and I can’t help it.”

Fred McFeely Rogers, 74, an ordained Presbyterian minister, died February 27. His message remained simple: he told his young viewers to love themselves and love others.