Clinton, South Carolina
Mary Ann Craig Link, widow of the Reverend Robert Sumter Link, died Friday, October 20, 2023, at The Clinton Presbyterian Community where she had been a resident since 2020. She was 96.
A Christian educator and teacher, she served as Director of Christian Education at Davis Memorial Presbyterian Church in Elkins, WV, at First Presbyterian Church in Clinton, and briefly at Upper Long Cane Presbyterian Church in Abbeville, SC, and taught in public and private schools in Brunswick County, NC, Cheraw, SC, and Floyd County, VA, until her retirement in 1989. Together with her husband of 66 years, she served congregations in Moncks Corner, SC, Chadbourn, NC, Chesterfield, SC, and Floyd, VA.
Born January 17, 1927, in Kashing, China, she was the daughter of Augustus Rochester Craig of Sandy Springs, SC, and Mary Alberta Bellingrath Craig of Decatur, GA, who were missionaries in China of the Presbyterian Church (US). Because she received a telegram in Decatur on January 16 announcing the birth, her grandmother Bellingrath was never convinced of her true birthday and made sure to date future birthday cards using January 16.
Other than one furlough year when she was five, she remained in China on the mission field with her parents until the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1938, at which time they hastily evacuated first to Shanghai and then to the United States, where her father became the pastor at Spruce Pine Presbyterian Church in Spruce Pine, NC.
Upon her graduation from Spruce Pine High School in 1943, she attended Agnes Scott College in Decatur, receiving her BA degree in 1947, where she often entertained her classmates with a Frank Sinatra impersonation (in bobby socks and fedora), and she went on to receive a Master of Arts in Christian Education from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, VA, in 1949. Her vocation as a Christian educator led her to First Presbyterian Church in Clinton in 1951, where she served as the DCE under the leadership of the pastor, Dr. Redd Turner.
While relaxing on her friend Frances Winn’s porch on Stonewall Street in the fall of 1953, she became enamored of a young sailor and his brand-new Ford convertible that “happened” to drive by, and in May of 1954 married him, beginning a life with Bobby Link that lasted 66 years until his death in 2020.
After settling into navy life in Norfolk, VA, she worked for a time for what is now the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia to help “plant” what became Calvin Presbyterian Church in Norfolk in 1955. After Bobby’s discharge from the Navy in October of 1954, they returned to Clinton, where he finished his studies at Presbyterian College, and she then continued her life-long service to the church, supporting him as he completed seminary, and then through their ministry to churches not only in the Carolinas and Virgina, but also in interims in their retirement as far away as Hallstead, PA. She was active in several presbyteries, serving as moderator of various presbytery committees as well as being a noted lecturer on Christian education to churches and conferences.
A gifted teacher, she taught all grade levels, including one year of high school physical education, but was most at home with fourth and fifth graders. Her patience and high expectations influenced innumerable young children as they began a transition to more serious schoolwork, and she would often receive “favorite teacher” recognition from them later in life.
For her two sons, seven grandchildren, six great-grandchildren (with one on the way), and six nieces and nephews, she created a warm and loving home where all were welcome, and she instilled her love of learning, music, and service to others in all of them. No sacrifice was too great if it enriched their lives and helped them become the best they could be.
Christmas in Floyd, where a tree would be fresh cut from the field behind the house, as well as Thanksgiving in their retirement home at Holden Beach, NC, where all of the family would gather, were always special occasions, and often concluded with rounds of scrabble, bridge, and a special version of Oh Heck known to the family as “Oh Sheila.” Summer trips to the beach and playing with “Bama” at the ocean are some of the fondest memories of all her grandchildren.
An avid reader her entire life, she owned and read hundreds of books, including all 81 Agatha Christie novels and story collections. She enjoyed traveling with Bobby all over the United States, and, with her mother, was able to return to China on two occasions for visits. Her stories of life in China and their escape from the Japanese were always captivating, and she dreamed of visiting the Lake District in England to visit the house and garden of her favorite poet, William Wordsworth. Perhaps now she can.
And although her beloved Atlanta Braves fell short this season, she remained loyal to the end, watching almost every televised game this season, and she was disappointed when the archrival Phillies prevailed in the playoffs. Her support for the Virginia Tech Hokies was similarly unwavering even through their recent valley of mediocrity.
In addition to her husband, she was preceded in death by her daughter, Mary Jane Link.
She is survived by her two sons, Robert Sumter Link, Jr (Amy) of Clinton, and Charles Craig Link (Debbie) of Hurdle Mills, NC; grandsons Craig Carruth Link (Evelyn) of Washington, DC, Robert Sumter Link, III (Elizabeth) of Columbia, SC, Jeremiah Franklin Link (Brianna) of Sellersville, PA, and Charles Benjamin Link of Durham, NC; granddaughter Sara Caroline Link Broadright (Royce) of Timberlake, NC; step-granddaughters Rachel Kelly Wade (John) of Lawrence, KS, and Mary Katherine Kelly of Clinton; great-grandchildren Surrey Gray Link, Knox Braddock Link, Sailor Joy Link, McMillan Sadler Link, Edward Mitchell Link, and Ivy Louise Broadright, as well as numerous nephews, nieces, and cousins.
The family would like to recognize the staff at the Health Care unit of The Clinton Presbyterian Community, as well as Hospice of Laurens County (VIA Health Partners), for the outstanding and loving care she received during this last year.
Memorials may be made to First Presbyterian Church, PO Box 29, Clinton, SC 29325, designated to the Global Mission Fund.
A public service of remembrance and burial will be held on Saturday, November 11, 2023, at 11:00 am at the Long Cane Cemetery (Upper) in Abbeville, SC (just north of Upper Long Cane Presbyterian Church, 194 SC-20, Abbeville, SC 29620).
The family will be at the home of Amy & Bob Link in Clinton following the service from 1:30 – 4:00 pm to gather with family and friends.
Chandler-Jackson Funeral home in Abbeville is in charge of the arrangements.
Anyone coming to the service is welcome to stop at the funeral home before going to the cemetery – 208 S Main, Abbeville.
“Do your best to come before winter … The Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” 2 Timothy 4:21-22