It always seemed to take Albert Link a little longer than most to break down and make a part of his life the simple conveniences of everyday modern life. As often as he told his family, “I love you,” he also told them, “We don’t need it.”
“But he would back that up,” said his daughter-in-law Elaine Link, as his wife, Mary, and daughter, Jan Filicsky, nodded in agreement. “If we don’t need a dishwasher, he’d do the dishes; if we didn’t need a garage door opener, he’d open the garage door.” It took a friendly family picket line to convince Link an air conditioner was a good idea.
Link, who after a fall died on Dec. 7 at the age of 85, knew what was important in life, Mary Link says. His calm demeanor and air of wisdom, even in his youth, are what attracted her to the man she married in 1948. “He was more poised. He wasn’t a silly kid like the others. He was somebody everybody liked and everybody respected,” she says, adding that he never spoke an ill word of anyone.
Though poised, Link enjoyed life to a degree that was infectious to those around him. He was a charter member of Springfield’s Silver Steppers, a seniors’ line dancing group formed in 1993. Though singing along to the music wasn’t encouraged, Link couldn’t help himself, says fellow member Carol Pitts, not that she minded. “It was wonderful to have him there,” Pitts says. “He was just full of joy – a happy person. More than just contentment, he had joy. We’re going to miss him.” Link was also a source of encouragement for new, less confident members, and if something needed done, Link would take charge. “He was a great organizer but not a big bossy loudmouth. He just got things done quietly and gently,” Pitts says.
When he wasn’t dancing and singing, playing musical instruments, worshiping at First Church of the Brethren or hitting the golf course, Link was volunteering. “Pretty much all it took was if somebody expressed a need,” says Filicsky.
Until he died, Link for 27 years delivered meals to the homebound through Daily Bread and worked as an RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) volunteer. “He was always smiling,” says Amy White, executive director of Daily Bread. “I never heard anything come out of him that was negative.”
For nearly 40 years, Link worked at Fiat Allis until he retired in 1983. At one point he served as a manager, but if anyone asked him what he did there, the title would never come up. “We were not supposed to use that word,” Mary Link says, adding that her husband thought that saying so would be bragging, which would take credit away from those he oversaw. She adds that Albert Link, who enjoyed his work, took an early retirement so a less tenured worker could continue to support a young family, the aspect of life Link held most dear.
A constant presence in his children and grandchildren’s lives, Link showed them he cared just by showing up. “He went to every piano concert, golf outing, baseball, basketball or soccer game. He was there, whatever it was,” Mary Link says. “He was just there for them.”
Albert Link knew what mattered and he shared his life philosophies with his children by living as an example, Filicsky says. One of his favorite phrases, which his family institutionalized in a special “Link-tionary” so future generations could understand the patriarch’s sometimes puzzling vocabulary, became a recurring theme for the Link household: “I could give you money; I could give you jewels; I could give you furs; but instead, my unending love.”
“As a teenager it goes over like a lead balloon,” Filicsky says. “But later on you grow to appreciate what a valuable thing that was.”
His children learned the lesson well. In the family-compiled Link-tionary, they wrote that the phrase referred to unconditional, unending love, adding that, “To have this means you have everything; understanding this makes all the difference.”