June 9, 2010

Arthur A. Link

Former Governor Arthur “Art” A. Link, died June 1, 2010, at St. Alexius Hospital, Bismarck.  Services were held at 2:00 p.m. CST, Saturday, June 5, at the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church-South Campus, Divide Avenue and Washington Street, Bismarck, with Rev. Jeff Tengesdal, Rev. Robert Lynne and Pastor Craig Schweitzer officiating.  Interment was Sunday, June 6, at 2:00 p.m., in Alexander, ND.
Arthur Albert Link was born in Alexander, North Dakota, to John and Anna (Mencl) Link, on May 24, 1914.  He attended Rowe School in Randolph School District and later attended North Dakota Agricultural College in Fargo, ND. After college he returned to Alexander to help his parents farm on the family homestead.
On May 20, 1939, Art married the love of his life, his “angel,” Grace Johnson in her parents’ home in rural Cartwright, N.D.  They continued to farm on the family homestead and raised a family of six children, five sons and one daughter.  Art and Grace recently celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary.  Their relationship and love for one another was one to be admired by all and an inspiration to their children and grandchildren.  Art was a wonderful husband, father and grandfather.  He was a man of great integrity and honesty who never said an unkind word about anyone, and because of that he was a friend to all.
While farming and raising his family, Art developed a spirit of giving back.  From this began a career of public service which started locally and grew to the county, state and national level.
In 1942, he was on the Randolph Township Board of Supervisors.  In 1946, Art was elected to the North Dakota House of Representatives and was re-elected consistently, serving in that capacity until 1970.  He was the minority floor leader in the House for 14 years and Speaker of the House in the 1965 session.  In 1970, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives and served one term.  Art was elected as governor of North Dakota in 1972 and served two terms.  He was chairman of the Midwestern Governors’ Conference in 1978 and state co-chairman of the Old West Regional Commission.  He is a charter member of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame and was the 2009 recipient of the award in the Great Westerner category.  Art has also been a strong supporter of the North Dakota Heritage Center, and served as the chairman of the North Dakota Centennial Commission.
After leaving office, Art continued to be a mentor for many and an elder statesman for the people of North Dakota.  He remained active in public life and served on numerous statewide and community committees.  There were many organizations and causes that were near and dear to Art and Grace. Art continued to be an active participant and supporter for these causes throughout his life.  After leaving public office Art was instrumental in the growth and development of Bank Center First, which is now American Bank Center.  He also was a strong advocate for historical preservation and writing of local histories.
Even though Art had the hands of a farmer, he had the finesse to fiddle a song that would fill a room with joy and get everyone’s foot a tapping.  He not only loved music but he had a love for the land that he worked. And now for Art, his legacy is illustrated in his own words “When the Landscape Is Quiet Again.”
Art is survived by his wife, Grace; five sons, Walter (Susan), Alexander, N.D.; Marvin (Jane), Milan, Minn.; Donald (Phyllis), Alexander, N.D.; Rodney (Anne), Rockford, Illi.; Harvey (Gale), Wahpeton, N.D.; one son-in-law, Glenn Hetzel, Rapid City, S.D.; 17 grandchildren, David (Orfa); Brian (Terri); Wendy (David) Tomczak; Jason (Sara); Kristi (Brad) Fernholz; Steven (Stacy); Ryan (Jennifer); Brenda (Jay) Larsen; Darren (Rie); Jonathon (Michelle); Aaron (Erika); Rachel (Zachary) Hensley; Dallas (Caroline) Hetzel; Connie (John) Long; Sarah (Christian) Schultz; Amber; and Matthew; two step-grandsons, Chad and Cody Hetzel; 30 great-grandchildren;  and one sister, Frances Johnson, Williston, N.D.
Art was preceded in death by his daughter, Joann Hetzel; his parents, John and Anna; and his sisters, Theresa, Elizabeth, Annie and Mary; and two infant great-granddaughters.
In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer memorials to the Arthur A. Link Fund which has been established at American Bank Center.  Memorials will be distributed to Art’s favorite charities and organizations. 
Go to www.parkwayfuneral.com to share memories of Art and sign the online guest book.