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Charges filed against family friend in kidnapping, murder of 5-year-old

Jon Hassler remembered

Jon Hassler died Thursday at age 74 at Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park. He suffered from a progressive neurological disorder, similar to Parkinson's disease, for nearly 15 years.

Hassler's experiences in Park Rapids undoubtedly made an impression on him. It was often said his first novel, "Staggerford," drew on his experiences teaching at Park Rapids High School. Hassler, Carlton Anderson and Martin Carter taught as peers but, Carlton said, it was Hassler who had a yearning to be published.

"I taught with him and fished with him," Carlton said. They socialized as well.

Hassler remained a Park Rapids figure at least through the 1970s, spending summers writing at his cabin on Lake Belle Taine. He also painted small landscapes he showed once in an exhibit at the North Country Museum of Arts. They were wonderful.

He was indeed a Renaissance man, like another of his students, the late Al Undem, a former reporter/writer for the Enterprise. So it is the case, that Jon Hassler made an impression on Park Rapids as well.

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