The Central Lakes College Foundation recently received a $1,000 donation to begin a scholarship in honor of former English instructor and author Jon Hassler.
It was while teaching in Brainerd that Hassler developed his trademark insight into small-town life via meticulous craftsmanship.
After teaching at Bemidji State University, he was an instructor at Brainerd Community College (now Central Lakes College) in the 1970s when, at age 37, his writing career began.
He taught for 17 years at his alma mater, St. John's University in Collegeville.
Hassler and his wife, Gretchen, live in Minneapolis and winter in Florida. He suffers with a form of Parkinson's disease resistant to treatment.
"He continues to write every day and has a wonderful outlook on life," said former colleague Joe Plut, a friend since their years as students at St. John's.
He is working on "The Staggerford Murders" and has been writing a young-adult novel, "Our Seventh Friend."
Hassler's 12th novel, "The Staggerford Flood," was released late last year by Viking Press. The book is a sequel to Hassler's 1977 break-out novel, "Staggerford," which he wrote in seven months during a sabbatical.
Park Rapids, where Hassler taught high school English from 1959 to 1965, is the real-life setting for both books. That community declared Oct. 5, 2002, as Jon Hassler Day.
Hassler in 2002 was chosen as Minnesota's favorite male adult (literature) author by the Minnesota Humanities Commission People's Choice Awards.
Hassler and his family lived in Staples until he was 10, then moved to Plainview and returned to Staples eight years later. Plainview in 2000 honored Hassler with the establishment of a professional theater facility in his name.
In addition to his 12 novels, Hassler has written a collection of essays, "Good People -- From an Author's Life" (Chicago, 2001).
The Jon Hassler Scholarship will be directed to a Staples-Motley High School graduate who is in the second year at CLC and pursuing an associate in arts degree with plans to earn a bachelor's degree.
For information on tax-deductible donations to the fund, contact Diane Scearcy, foundation director, at 855-8129 (toll-free 800-933-0346), or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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