Philip Formo
Philip Formo
The Harmony Historical Society will be hosting a book signing and meet the author event on Sunday, Feb. 9, at QUARTER/quarter Restaurant and Wine Bar in Harmony. The featured guest will be Philip Formo, author of "Papa: A Life Remembered." The event will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. in the restaurant's wine bar. There will be free appetizers created by Chef Stephen Larson. Wine, beer and soft drinks will be available for purchase.

Formo is the grandson of Andreas Helland, the main character in his book. Formo calls his book a work of "creative nonfiction" in which the general story line is accurate but additional information and events are imbedded in the writing.

The story follows the life of Andreas, who was born in July of 1870 in Fitjar, about 40 miles southwest of Bergen, off the coast of Norway. At the age of 13, he left home to go to school in Stavanger and at 19, he boarded a steamship for America.

Andreas has several strong ties to Harmony, as he taught at several schools near Harmony and in the area. He lived with the Rev. Dryer and the Mikkel Rockne family during his teaching tenure and fell in love with Clara Rockne, whom he later married in 1893. He enrolled as a seminary student at Augsburg in Minneapolis, but before he was ordained, he preached at Greenfield Lutheran in June of 1890. One of his brothers, Kristen, also came to America and worked on a farm near Harmony for a period of time.

Formo visited the Harmony area while researching his book and visited the former Rockne farm, area cemeteries and the Quammen farm where his grandfather had lived with the Rev. Dryer in the parsonage.

The author followed in his grandfather's footsteps and also became a teacher and pastor, serving churches in the Minnesota communities of Austin, Roseville, Rochester and Bloomington. In retirement he continues to serve as a clergy coach and enjoys writing and traveling. He and his wife, Jean, live in Savage, Minn. They have two grown daughters, Carrie and Krista.

During his visit to Harmony in February, Formo will also be the guest speaker at Greenfield Lutheran's worship service on that same Sunday morning of his author event at QUARTER/quarter. There will be a short reception with the author in the fellowship hall following the service.