Cover photo for Grace Link's Obituary
1919 Grace 2024

Grace Link

September 13, 1919 — March 12, 2024

Grace Link passed away March 12, 2024, at the Missouri Slope Lutheran Care Center, Bismarck, North Dakota, at the age of 105 years. She continued to inspire all as she witnessed the ebb and flow of history. She will be missed by many who loved her down-to-earth kindness and sensibility. She was a remarkable woman, and her legacy transcends her role as a former First Lady of North Dakota and political figure; she was a beacon of love, resilience and community spirit.

A funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM, Monday, March 18, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 106 Osage Ave, Bismarck. 
To view the service livestream please click this link GSLC Online Worship Service 03/16/2024 5:00 PM (

Visitation will be held from 2:00PM to 4:00PM, with a prayer service starting at 4:00PM, Sunday, March 17 at Parkway Funeral Service, 2330 Tyler Parkway, Bismarck. 

Burial will be at Alexander Cemetery in Alexander, ND at 1:00PM, Tuesday March 19, 2024.
All times are CDT.

Grace Marion Johnson Link was born Friday, September 13, 1918, in Cartwright, ND to Royal (Roy) and Margaret (Wood) Johnson.  She was the youngest of four children and grew up on a farm near Cartwright. She attended country school and graduated from Williston High School in 1936. She then attended Aberdeen Business College in South Dakota and went on to work as a secretary for a Williston real estate company. 

Grace met Art Link at a dance where he was playing violin. Art and Grace married on May 20, 1939 and made their home on the Link farm near Alexander. They enjoyed 71 years together raising five sons and one daughter, farming, and devoting their lives to great philanthropic efforts and leadership in government and community activities. Grace was a farmer’s wife willing to milk a cow amongst other farm chores, a great cook and baker, baking bread weekly, and was a 4-H Leader amongst other community volunteering. 

She moved the family to Bismarck while Art was in the legislature for the early part of his 24 legislative years, went with him to Washington DC for two years as a Congressman’s wife, and then came back to her beloved state of North Dakota to serve as First Lady while Art served as governor for 8 years (1973-1981). While in Washington DC, Grace was a member of the 92nd Congressional Wives Club and the Democratic Women’s Forum. Grace motored visitors on sightseeing tours in her 1970 Impala. When Art ran for ND governor, Grace started giving campaign speeches, which she said wasn’t really her thing, but she did it anyway. The campaign trail was often done together as husband and wife. When they won the governor’s race and moved into the governor’s residence, she opened it for two or three public tours per week. She also welcomed special groups into the home, including her own boards and service groups. They certainly served a lot of coffee in the governor’s residence!

Grace was very supportive of Art’s concern for preserving natural resources and North Dakota’s heritage. Grace, along with Art, helped form the Society for the Preservation of the Former Governors’ Mansion, which continues to help preserve the site for future generations. She was an early supporter of efforts to expand the ND Heritage Center and multiple other projects that preserve the state’s history. She has also supported multiple music programs, college scholarships and various youth programs. Her unwavering commitment to service touched countless lives and was only outmatched by her love of family, friends, and the state of North Dakota. Her warm smile and genuine interest in people made her a beloved figure across the state. After leaving the Governor’s Residence, Grace and Art decided to stay in Bismarck where they purchased a home and continued to support their many causes and enjoy their many friends who became like family. Grace traveled with Art when he served as the Chairman of the ND Centennial Commission and was often seen in her pioneer dress. In recognition of their continued leadership, the North Dakota Democratic-NPL has presented the Art and Grace Link Leadership Award annually to North Dakotans who exemplify a strong sense of service to their state and country.  

Her love for family was always there. Grace enjoyed family gatherings and tried to make time for family whenever their busy life permitted. Their family grew to include 17 grandchildren, 41 great-grandchildren, and 5 great-great-grandchildren. She crocheted the grandchildren afghans for their high school graduation and crocheted many of the great-grandchildren baby afghans when they were born. She did needlework including tablecloths and wall hangings. 

Grace is survived by daughter-law, Susan Link, Alexander, ND; children, Marvin (Jane) Link, Milan, MN; Donald (Phyllis) Link, Alexander ND; Rodney (Anne) Link, Naperville, IL; Harvey (Gale), Wahpeton, ND; and son-in-law, Glenn Hetzel; 17 grandchildren, David (Orfa); Brian (Terri); Wendy (David) Tomczak; Jason (Sara); Kristi (Brad) Fernholz; Steven (Stacy); Ryan (Jennifer); Brenda (Jay) Larsen; Darren (Rie); Jonathan (Michelle); Aaron (Erika); Rachel (Zachary) Hensley; Dallas (Caroline) Hetzel; Connie (John) Long; Sarah (Christian) Schultz; Amber (Joe) Zabaldano; and Matthew (Christine); two step-grandsons, Chad Hetzel and Cody Hetzel; 41 great-grandchildren; 5 great-great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews.

Grace was preceded in death by her daughter, Joann Hetzel; son, Walter; husband, Arthur; two infant great-granddaughters; along with her parents and siblings, Vern Johnson, Nelle Wang and Forrest Johnson.

In lieu of flowers, the family would prefer memorials to be designated to a charity of your choice or to the Grace M. Link Memorial Fund, which has been established at Bravera Bank. Memorials will be distributed to Grace’s favorite charities and organizations.

To order memorial trees in memory of Grace Link, please visit our tree store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Sunday, March 17, 2024

2:00 - 4:00 pm (Central time)

Parkway Funeral and Cremation Service

2330 Tyler Parkway, Bismarck, ND 58503

A prayer service will begin at 4:00 PM.

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.

Funeral Service

Monday, March 18, 2024

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Central time)

Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

106 Osage Ave, Bismarck, ND 58501

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Starts at 1:00 pm (Central time)

Enter your phone number above to have directions sent via text. Standard text messaging rates apply.


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