James Link, 88 , Wahpeton, ND, a generous supporter of major community projects and pioneer of local cooperatives, passed away on Friday, May 13, 2016 at Sheyenne Crossing Care Center in West Fargo, ND. His funeral mass will be at 10:30 am on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at St. John's Catholic Church, Wahpeton with Rev. Dale Lagodinski as Celebrant. Visitation will be held on Monday, May 16, 2016 from 4:00 to 7:00 pm, with a wake at 7:00 pm at St. John's Catholic Church, and also an hour prior to the service. Burial will follow the service at Calvary Cemetery, Wahpeton. Arrangements are entrusted to Vertin-Munson Funeral Home, Wahpeton.
James Francis Link was born October 21, 1927, in Lidgerwood, ND to Nicholas and Lauretta Besch Link. He attended area schools, leaving school in the eighth grade to begin farming. He married Norma Jean Baker on November 29, 1951 at St. John's Catholic Church in Wahpeton.
James farmed in the Mooreton, ND area where he was very active in community affairs. He was a director of the Farmers Elevator Company for six years including five years as president. He was a director and part owner of the Wyndmere Grain and Fertilizer Company in Wyndmere, ND. James retired in 1988 but remained connected to the farming operation through his sons for many years. Up until his last days, James was thrilled to make a trip to the farm and have a ride in the combine.
One of James' proudest accomplishments was his involvement with cooperatives in the 1940's. He was instrumental in bringing a $38 million sugar beet processing plant to the Wahpeton-Breckenridge communities. The grand opening in 1974 of Minn-Dak Farmers Cooperative was celebrated before a crowd of 4, 000 people. James was the first chairman of the board serving as chairman for 10 years and served on the board for a total of 15 years.
Once the cooperative was founded, James assisted Minn-Dak in legislative lobbying efforts both on the state and national level. He served in a variety of other leadership positions associated with the domestic sugar industry and various farm-related organizations. He was a founding member and the chairman of the board for the Southeast Red River Valley Sugar Beet Development Association until 1973. James was on the board of the region's Farm Credit Services for 29 years, serving as chairman most of those years. He also represented North Dakota on the Farm Credit District Federation, an organization of directors from throughout the seven-state St. Paul Farm Credit District.
In the mid-1990's, ND Governor Ed Schaefer appointed James to serve on the ProGold Governor's Committee in an effort to determine if it was feasible to use locally-grown corn in the production of high-fructose corn syrup. In 1996, this committee was successful in bringing the ProGold plant costing $261 million, along with many news jobs, to Wahpeton.
In the early 1990's, James was elected as a southeast district director and board member of the Dakota Pasta Growers Company, a grower-owned cooperative. The cooperative was successful in the building of a $43 million durum mill and pasta plant in ND.
In 1997, James was awarded with the Cooperative Spirit Award representing Service (for cooperatives), Perseverance, Initiative, Resilience, Integrity and Teamwork, from the North Dakota Coordinating Counsel for Cooperatives for his influence in the development of value-added processing facilities in ND. James is commonly referred to as the "grandfather of ND cooperatives".
James' contributions to the community included serving as the Chairman of the Head of the Red Youth Activities Association during the time the Harry Stern and Ella Stern Ice Arena was built. James was a very active member of St. John's Catholic Church. His volunteer work for the church ranged from chairing the Parish Council to co-chairing a fund drive for a major renovation of the church to serving as an usher. James also served on the Science Advisory Committee at NDSCS for four years, chairing it for two of those years. His outstanding volunteerism earned him the Chamber of Commerce Extra Mile Award.
James was active in state and national politics and was a staunch member of the Democratic Party. He served on the election committee for three former governors Bill Guy, Art Link, Bud Sinner; and also for Senator Quentin Burdick. He also served as a delegate to district and state political conventions numerous times and was named as a delegate to the national convention. James made one attempt for the North Dakota State Senate for the 25th District, losing by only 35 votes; and the North Dakota House of Representatives for the 25th District in 1968.
James was a member of the Community Development Corporation of Wahpeton, the 4th Degree of Knights of Columbus, The Elks Lodge #2147 and a charter member of the Wahpeton Eagles Aerie 2749.
James is survived by his wife, Norma Jean, and children, Jerome (Theresa), Mooreton, ND; Debra (Wayne) Pauly, Woodbury, MN; David (Sandy), Mooreton, ND; Kathryn (Tom) Haugrud, Wahpeton, ND; Diane (David) Derry, Sioux Falls, SD; Connie (Kelly) Doran, Edina, MN; Karen, San Francisco, CA; and Daniel (Heather), Mound, MN; brothers, Wayne (Germaine), Wyndmere, ND; Charles (Vonnie), Atlanta, GA; Richard (Jeanne), Breckenridge, MN; and sisters, Diane Springer, Lake Forest, CA and Judy (Jim) Hintgen Lake Forest, CA. James is also survived by 14 grandchildren, 20 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren. James is preceded in death by his parents and by his grandson, Randy Link.
James Link Memorial Folder