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Former ND governor Art Link dies at age 96

Former Gov. Art Link of North Dakota has died. He was 96.

The office for Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., confirmed Link passed away.

Link was born in Alexander, N.D., and served as the state's 27th governor. He was elected in 1972 and served two four-year terms.

Family spokesman Bob Valeu told the Associated Press that Link died Tuesday morning at a Bismarck hospital from natural causes.

Link was North Dakota's governor from 1973 to 1980. Before his election as governor, Link served in the state House for 24 years and in Congress for two years.

Link, a Democrat, sought a third term as governor in 1980 and was defeated by then Republican Attorney General Allen Olson, who ran because he believed two terms was enough for one governor.

"Art Link will be remembered as one of the greatest governors our State has seen," Dem-NPL Chairman Mark Schneider said in a news release. "His dedication and service to the people of North Dakota were legendary, as was his steadfast devotion to his beloved wife, Grace, his constant companion.

"For literally decades, this tireless champion of the people was a shining example of all that is good in public service. On behalf of the Democratic-NPL Party, I join with tens of thousands of North Dakotans in sending our deepest sympathies to the Governor's family. A son of North Dakota has gone home to rest."

Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., also released a news statement.

"North Dakota is heartbroken today at the news that Governor Art Link has passed away. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Grace, and the rest of his family," Pomeroy said in the statement. "Art Link was a quintessentially North Dakotan public servant. There is an old Nonpartisan League adage that "the office seeks the man." That described Governor Link perfectly.

"Governor Link's work helped our state build the strong education system and growing energy industry that we have today.

"His common sense, decency, and the sincerity of his commitment to helping others made Art and his ever-present wife and partner, Grace, the role models of public service for generations of North Dakotans."

In 2008, the documentary "When the Landscape is Quiet Again: The Legacy of Art Link" was broadcast. The film, by Clay Jenkinson and David Swenson, was the first produced by The Dakota Institute of the Lewis & Clark Fort Mandan Foundation.