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Former first lady turns 95

Well-wishers came out to the former governor's mansion on Friday to celebrate former first lady Grace Link's birthday in Bismarck.

BISMARCK -- North Dakota's former first lady Grace Link turned 95 Friday.

And every day, the wife of former congressman and Gov. Art Link, said "I get up in the morning, put a smile on my face no matter how much I'm hurting, and say, 'today is going to be a good day,' and it always is."

Grace and more than 50 other friends spent the afternoon at the former governor's mansion here as the Democratic-NPL party honored Link for her commitment to the party and state.

Party Chairman Bob Valeu who served as Art Link's campaign manager during his successful 1970 bid for Congress and 1972 gubernatorial race, said Grace was very involved in the decision-making process throughout her husband's political career, especially as he served as governor from 1972-81.

"She's a very strong individual in that she believes in giving back," Valeu said. "Now she is doing that in many different ways. At 95, she's still up in the morning and out doing many things."

Link says she continues to play an active role in many organizations, including the Society for the Preservation of the Former Governor's Mansion, on which she serves as a board member.

"It's always slow working through things, but we just try to help them with what we can," she said.

Although she never lived in the governor's mansion, the Link's are directly tied to it as they championed the creation of the preservation society and had the custody of the mansion transferred to the State Historical Society of North Dakota in 1975.

Katherine Satrom, of Bismarck, describes Link as "gracious, intelligent and caring."

"She is one of the living treasures in North Dakota," said Satrom, who spent five years working for the Link administration. "While the first lady, she gave so much of herself and she has continued to do so ever since for the benefit of the state."

With a large smile, Grace, who was born and raised near Cartwright, southwest of Williston, said Friday she celebrated her birthday last week with 100 family members.

"The kids said they needed a reason for a family reunion, if it's me, that's OK," she said.

For now, Grace said she doesn't have any major goals to fulfill, but is always willing to lend a hand where it's needed.

"I'm just going to keep on living as long as the Lord keeps me here," she said.

Mike Nowatzki

Mike Nowatzki reports for Forum News Service. He can be reached at (701) 255-5607.