Do you think Mister Rogers was an anomaly, or do you think that in today's culture there could be a national icon who stands for values that are similar to his?
I think he was an anomaly, I really do. It's so funny to me that he got into television in the `50s because he thought it was demeaning-that was his word, demeaning. And I thought, over the course of the last 50 years, it's just gotten worse. I think he was born at the right time. There was a character on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, his name was Chuck Aber. They called him "Neighbor Aber." When I watched the show with my kids, I always thought in the back of my mind that he was going to be Mister Rogers' successor because he was very gentle and very much like Fred. I met Neighbor Aber at Fred's memorial and I asked him, and he said there would be no replacement for Fred Rogers, there was never ever any discussion about that because he just knew that you couldn't have another Fred Rogers.

I really don't know of anybody who could have endured the criticism and the mockery that he did. One of the things that always stood out in writing this book was how strong he was in being true to who he was. He was the best Fred Rogers that he could have possibly been, and he never wavered from that, he never wavered from just being himself. I think that's probably one of the most important lessons that I've personally learned from him.

Did Mister Rogers believe in heaven, and do you think that he, on some level, is still helping people from heaven?
He absolutely did believe in heaven, and he absolutely believed that's where he was headed. When he was initially diagnosed with cancer, his first response was that he couldn't wait to go to heaven. And of course his family was like, please don't be so eager. It was part of his theology to believe that people in heaven helped those of us on earth. He really believed that. He believed that his parents, and the people he loved like Henri Nouwen and Johnny Costa his piano player, he certainly believed that those people inspired him and helped him. That was part of his thinking, so I'm sure he does help people. I don't think that his goodness and his love for people is limited by where he is in his new neighborhood.