I came across these photos thanks to my friends at the “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” Archive. They are from Fred’s senior yearbook, 1945-46, Latrobe (Pa.) High School. Fred was the yearbook editor. Even then you could see the light in him.
One of the photograph is of Jim Stumbaugh. Those who have read the book might remember Jim’s significance to Fred’s story.
Fred had been bullied as a pudgy, musical, shy junior high student. Jim was the star athlete, president of his class. The two of them did not know each other until Jim suffered a serious football injury their freshman year of high school, and Fred volunteered to bring him his books in the hospital.
“Little did I know that it would be the beginning of a lifelong friendship,” Fred said later during at the Latrobe High commencement, 50 years after his own graduation. “He seemed to want to get to know me. I learned to trust him an told him about some of my deepest feelings.”
To Fred, it was a “a life altering friendship … largely because I had somebody who believed in me and wasn’t afraid to say so.”
A few week before Fred and I met in the fall of 1995, Jim died of cancer. This from Chapter Two.
“With grief there is inevitably, times of anger and you know, God can take our anger,” Fred told me that day in his small office in Pittsburgh. “I think God respects the fact that we would share a whole gamut of feelings. I’m a real person. I think kids understand that.”
It was in the next moment, I’ve always believed, that our friendship was born …He turned away from the window, looked at me, and smiled sadly.
“You’re ministering to me, Tim,” he said “By listening, you minister to me.”