Author Jon Hassler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 30, 1933. He received his bachelor's degree from St. John's University in 1955 before going on to the University of North Dakota for his master's degree. After graduating from college, he taught high school English for the next 10 years. In 1970, while teaching at Brainerd Community College, he became interested in writing fictional stories. Hassler's first novel, Staggerford, a story of a small-town school teacher, was chosen Novel of the Year in 1978 by the Friends of American Writers. In 1987, Hassler's fifth novel, Grand Opening, a tale told from the point of view of a twelve-year-old boy living in the corrupt town of Plainview, Minnesota, won the Best Fiction Award, given by the Society of Midland Authors. Granted honorary Doctor of Letters degrees by Assumption College, the University of North Dakota, and the University of Notre Dame, he has also received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board. He died, after years of suffering from progressive supranuclear palsy, on March 20, 2008.