"He lived a colorful life," Rains said of Link, a former Harlan County magistrate and a retired Kentucky Probation and Parole officer who died Tuesday at his home after a long battle with cancer.
"He grew up on a ranch in Florida and he was shot in the stomach once with a .38 caliber pistol when he was a probation and parole officer. His stories were interesting, but I also remember him being a very devoted man."
Rains was also Link's Sunday School teacher at the Harlan Baptist Church, where he was a longtime member. John McNeil, another of Link's close friends, described him as a "regular" in Sunday School class and was one of the first ones to speak up when the group engaged in discussions.
"We loved hearing about his stories of growing up on a ranch in Florida," McNeil said. "I know he'll be fondly remembered with a smile."
Former Harlan County Judge-Executive Delzinna Belcher has her own way of remembering the man, who she said greatly contributed to the area.
"I'll always remember that big cowboy hat he wore and his tractor," Belcher said. "He loved life and people and was always so pleasant to be around and willing to help somebody out. His personality was uplifting to all who knew him."
Link, who was named a Kentucky Colonel, was well-known in the county and state for his love of game chickens, which he bred for over half a century. He was a member of the Kentucky Game Fowl Breeders Association.
Link's son, Harold Link, who is co-owner of Harlan's "Coming Up Roses" floral shop, said his father had fought prostate cancer for 15 years. This past Thanksgiving, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
"My grandfather once said of my father that he would have given all he had to be the type of father that my dad was," said Harold Link. "I think Dad will be remembered for being a fair man. He established a fair reputation when he was a probation and parole officer, and his clients always remembered him as being fair. He gave them every opportunity."
Another quality that stands out to Harold Link about his father was his devotion to his wife, Henrietta.
"He loved my mother for 48 years," he said. "And that is a testimony in itself."
Link, of Harlan, was 73. A native of Leesburg, Fla., he was a graduate of Cumberland College and moved to Harlan County in 1957. Besides serving as District 4 magistrate for one term, and working as a Kentucky Probation and Parole officer for 25 years, he was a former employee of Shackleford Coal Company, as well as a former teacher in the Harlan County School System.
Link was also a veteran of the United States Army and served in the Korean Conflict with the 7th Calvary Unit. Other organizations he belonged to included the Harlan Baptist Church, the Harlan Masonic Ledge 897 F & AM, the Harlan Chapter 297 OES and the Kentucky Cattleman's Association.
Link was preceded in death by his parents, Harold Henry Link and Ora Marlow Link.
Survivors include his wife of 48 years, Henrietta Shackleford Link; two sons: Alfred B. Link and wife, Marvenia; and Harold H. Link and wife, Sherri, all of Harlan; grandchildren: Cathy Link, London; Henry Link and wife, Kayla, Pineville; Majik Link, Richmond; and Andrew Link, Harlan; a brother, Marlow Link and wife, Geneva, Napa, Calif.; his sister: Dottie Rose Gilliam and husband, Randolph, Storrs, Conn.; and a special adoptive granddaughter, Michelle Baker, Woodstock, Va.
Visitation will be held Friday from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Harlan Baptist Church.
Funeral services will follow at 8 p.m. at the church with the Rev. John Ditty and the Rev. Ronnie Hampton officiating.
Graveside services will be held at 1 p.m. on Saturday at the Highland Park Cemetery where he will be laid to rest with other members of his family who have resided in the Williamsburg area since the Revolutionary War. Masonic services will be provided by the Harlan Masonic Lodge 897 F & AM.
Masons will serve as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers will be members of the Ron Rains Sunday School class of the Harlan Baptist Church.
Anderson-Laws & Jones Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.