Jon Hassler: Distinguished author and educator
March 30, 1933-March 20, 2008
Jon Hassler, a life-long resident of Minnesota, was born in Minneapolis in 1933, lived his first ten years in Staples and his next eight in Plainview, where he graduated from high school. He attended Saint John's University (B.A.) and the University of North Dakota (M.A.) and taught high school English for ten years before joining the faculty at Bemidji State University. It was in 1970, while teaching at Brainerd Community College, that Jon began to write fiction. In 1980 he became writer-in-residence at Saint John's. He was later named Regent's Professor. He remained until his retirement in 1997. Throughout his career he remained dedicated to writing and teaching.
Jon, a nationally respected author of novels, plays and nonfiction, is widely considered one of the most insightful, entertaining and authentic voices of Minnesota. He received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board. His novels Staggerford and Grand Opening won prestigious literary awards. A television version of A Green Journey starring Angela Lansbury and Denholm Elliott was produced for NBC in 1988. In 1993, Jon was granted an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by Assumption College (Massachusetts); in 1994 by the University of North Dakota; and in 1996 by the University of Notre Dame. In 2003 Saint John's presented Jon with the 10th annual Colman Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society to honor his service to humanity in his writing.