Bob Sevel was paying his way through college as a photographer in 1987 when he landed a cool gig: Bowling Green State University’s commencement address.
One of the speakers was Fred Rogers, who spent part of that May afternoon leading the graduates and faculty in singing his TV show’s theme song. After the ceremony, Sevel, an Ohio State University student, approached Rogers to ask if he’d be willing to pose for a photo.
“He was awfully kind — not only with myself, but with all who approached him,” Sevel recalled last week.
Sevel, now a senior field sales representative for Eastern Area’s Ohio Valley District, is one of many Postal Service employees who are remembering Rogers as the organization gears up for the March 23 release of the Mister Rogers stamp.
Some credit “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” with teaching them about mail.
Janice Pardick, a vehicle maintenance facility storekeeper in New Castle, PA, remembers mailing a drawing to Rogers and receiving a thank-you note in return, while Jennifer Cloxton, an acting supervisor of customer services in Swansea, MA, recalls being inspired by the show’s speedy deliveryman, Mr. McFeely.
“I always told my family that I wanted to work for the Post Office because of Mr. McFeely,” Cloxton said. “My dreams have come true.”
Other employees remember how much their children loved “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” which aired on public television from 1968-2001.
Because Fred Ashley, a mail processing clerk in Utica, NY, worked an overnight shift for USPS, he got to watch the show with his two kids.
“My children learned a lot of life lessons from that show,” Ashley said. “No one taught a lesson better or with more kindness than Mister Rogers. Those were special times.”
For other employees, Rogers meant even more.
Andrew Hallock, a part-time flexible employee in Hill City, SD, said the TV host was a positive influence during a childhood marked by a “chaotic” home life.
“Every day, I had someone look at me and tell me I was special. Though I understood he was actually looking at a camera and saying those words, I always felt he meant that every person watching his program that day was indeed special,” Hallock said.
“I learned what kindness looked like, what good manners sounded like, and what an adult who really cared about children behaved like.”