Link: A treasure whose spirit will remain
While he loved people, politics, playing the fiddle and eating pie and plum dumplings, the love of his life was his wife, Grace. North Dakota has been blessed with many treasures. Art Link was one of them. The former governor died of natural caus...
While he loved people, politics, playing the fiddle and eating pie and plum dumplings, the love of his life was his wife, Grace.
North Dakota has been blessed with many treasures. Art Link was one of them. The former governor died of natural causes June 1 in Bismarck at the age of 96.
Born in 1914, Link became a member of the state Legislature at the age of 32 in 1946, and he spent the next 24 years there before moving to Washington as a congressman. Two years later, finding the slow pace in D.C. frustrating, he ran for and became North Dakota's governor in 1972. He won a second term in 1976, but was defeated in 1980.
Not only well-liked but loved, Link was remembered best by many for his insight, promises and follow through in "cautious and orderly" development of the state's natural resources and reclamation of mined land. His energy policy was rooted in environmentalism and conservation -- and we are all the better for it. ...
Theodore Roosevelt scholar Clay Jenkinson wrote this about Link as the governor neared his 94th birthday: "He had the wisdom to see that we North Dakotans live on a broad and fruitful prairie whose highest purpose is the production of food. And he had the moral courage to stake his governorship on that principle when it would have been so easy to get on board with the draglines.
"We are a better place -- more truly North Dakota -- for his leadership. ... Art Link embodies something very deep in the North Dakota experience and character. He represents what we have been for most of our heritage."
Link was a man of many things, a living legend and still legendary. He was a farmer and a man of, and for, the people.
He was equally comfortable talking with elementary school students about safety, serving as Tribune editor of the day during National Newspaper Day or meeting with a U.S. president.
He was an inductee into the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. He and Grace were the grand marshals of the Mandan Fourth of July Parade and were the subjects of a one-hour documentary film that won regional and national awards.
Link stayed as active as his health would allow in his later years and was quoted most recently on March 20 in support of the passage of health care reform when he said: "Food, clothing and health care should be the birthright of every child."
That was true Art Link, putting others first. He is now gone in body but will remain forever in spirit after a job well done.