For many Philadelphians, children’s show host Gene London was, as reader Kathy Kelly put it, the “Mr. Rogers of my age.”

“He always made me feel like I was the only one he was talking to,” wrote Diane Berger in an email. “A very gentle soul. I knew it when I was little and met him a few years ago and he still was that same type of soul.”

For those lucky enough to have encountered London, who died on Sunday of a cerebral hemorrhage following a fall, he may have been their first brush with celebrity. And what’s clear from the memories of the host, whose show aired on WCAU (Channel 10) from 1959-77, is that it was a responsibility he took seriously all his life.

Here’s just a sample of what’s been shared with The Inquirer and on social media since London’s death was reported on Tuesday:

“A huge part of my childhood”

He was such an engaging storyteller. I remember listening to him tell a story while he was sketching it. I couldn’t wait for the end of the story to finally see his finished drawing! Gene London was a huge part of my childhood. May he Rest In Peace.
— Audrey Mento, Bucks County

“Offered him a puppy”

In 1961 I took my 4-year-old son to the show. As a typical 4-year-old he was hesitant to go on stage. Gene London came to us and offered him a puppy to hold. A wonderful man. We need more of him on TV today.
— Dolores

“Bigger than life”

When I was about 7 years old I was lucky enough to go to and see the show. My three sisters, and myself watched the show religiously. To to be able to actually see it in person, and to meet someone bigger than life to me was just so overwhelming. Once there, I was invited to actually go on air , along with a few other children, with Gene himself. They were doing a bit about a turtle. We were told not to make any noise or say anything. So when Gene London passed me the turtle, and asked me a question about it, my first thought was, ‘They told me not to speak.’ So I didn’t. No worries, he made me feel quite comfortable with my short fame. I wish I had that recording.
— Robin Mann

“On my bedroom wall”

My uncle was a paper distributor and they sold paper that Gene would draw on on his shows. My uncle often had lunch at our house in South Philadelphia while he was on his route. One day he brought me an autographed picture of Gene. I wrote on it ‘my boy FIEND,’ which I spell just like that as I was a young child. I put it up on my bedroom wall and it was there until we moved from that house. I loved Gene so much!
— Debbie Moore
Reader Joe Finio (right) with Gene London and Joe's brother Nick in 1967.
Courtesy of Joe Finio
Reader Joe Finio (right) with Gene London and Joe's brother Nick in 1967.

“We kind of ambushed him”

When Gene’s show was on, in the 1960s, he used to purchase furniture at a store that was close to where we lived in Overbrook ... Someone that worked in the store was a friend of my Mom and Dad and let them know he was there. So we waited outside for him to leave the store. It was just he and me and my brother Nick and my Mom. So we kind of ambushed him. But he was absolutely great, I do remember that. Years later, I printed out this photo and tracked him down in NYC ... and he had the opportunity to see this photo. You know, he knew the exact year by the style of the clothes. This photo is from 1967.
— Joe Finio

“We went to the show to perform”

The grade school I attended put on shows to honor the pastor. When I was in second grade, (many moons ago, maybe 1965) we did a dance dressed as maids. The dresses were black satin and we had white aprons and headbands. Somehow, we went to the show to perform our dance. I don’t remember much about it other than riding on a big, green and yellow PTC bus, but I remember us being outside and Mr. London saying to us, ‘C’mon kids, let’s run over the hill and get some watermelon!’ ... It was a really special day.
— Maryann Abruzzese, Aston

“We all went on a flying carpet”

I used to be on Gene’s show when I was a kid. One time he had me bring in my gerbils to put on the show. On another episode we all went on a flying carpet using green-screen magic. Great memories of a fantastic guy.
— Ellen Preston, Woodbury, N.J.

“You’ve got good taste”

I was on his great Philadelphia TV show when in first grade in the mid-1960s ... A few years back at Bloomingdale’s [in] Willow Grove mall, I was with my dear, dear Ma and we saw the great Gene London. So excited, and I simply said to him, ‘You know, I went from loving you to David Cassidy to David Bowie.’ And sweet, kind Gene simply, kindly said, ‘You’ve got good taste.’ Such a great, wonderful, nice person.
— Diane Rydzewski, Philadelphia

“A most generous and loving human being”

I was fortunate to work for Gene this past year as a seamstress. We worked side by side preparing costumes for shows in Atlantic City and Allentown. He was a most generous and loving human being. He connected with small children and adults on many levels. He, and his husband, John, always told me they loved and appreciated me. I will truly miss his warm heart.
— Karen Quinn