Arthur Link, a former North Dakota governor, congressman and longtime state legislator known for environmental stewardship and staying true to his rural roots, died today surrounded by family, a family spokesman said. He was 96.
Link wasn’t feeling well after dinner Saturday and was taken to St. Alexius Medical Center in Bismarck, where he developed and was being treated for pneumonia, said Bob Valeu, a family spokesman.
“His five sons, along with his wife, Grace, and grandchildren were with him over the weekend,” Valeu said. Funeral arrangements were pending.
Link was born in Alexander in 1914, the son of homesteaders from Czechoslovakia and Germany, and was raised on the family farm. Friends said he never forgot his upbringing during his four-decade political career, which included only two lost races.
The Democrat advocated for allowing oil-producing counties to keep some tax revenues for road repairs and pushed for strong regulations for reclaiming land mined for coal.
Gov. John Hoeven said Link’s environmental stewardship while governor left a lasting legacy on the landscape of North Dakota’s reclaimed lands, and his “deep faith and principled decision-making throughout his long life” earned him widespread respect and affection.
“He was a remarkable man, a courageous leader and a dear friend,” U.S. Sen. Kent Conrad said in a statement. “He knew what he believed, he knew what he stood for, he knew the values that he had been raised with.”
U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy added: “He approached issues with a strong conscience and the kind of common sense that you get growing up on the prairie. He was interested in results, not the limelight.”