In memoriam: Educator Otto Link dies at 91

Otto Link

Longtime FFRF Life Member Otto Paul Link died at his assisted living facility in Palo Alto, Calif., on May 9 at the age of 91.

Otto was born in St. Paul on June 12, 1928, to Otto Link and Julia (Pfeiffer) Link. Otto was the youngest of five children.

Otto played baseball and the trumpet and performed in small dance groups.

Otto worked several jobs as a youth, carrying ice at age 13, working in a refrigerator factory, and at Swift’s packing-house with his father. He put himself through college at the University of Minnesota by working as a mail sorter in the Minneapolis Post Office, where he met his lifelong friend Elmer Zoff. Both were avid freethinkers.

Otto graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in education and later a master’s degree in elementary reading. At the university, Otto met his future wife of 67 years, Jeanette (Weiss) Link. Otto taught fourth and fifth grade in the Minneapolis Public School system, and in summer school taught profoundly deaf children to read.

He later held positions as vice principal and principal in the Minneapolis public schools. As a vice principal in the 1970s, Otto was instrumental in the historic desegregation efforts integrating Hale and Field schools.

He retired from the Minneapolis Public School system after over 30 years of dedicated service, focusing on the importance of early literacy for children.

Otto enjoyed boating, canoeing, motorcycle riding, reading, reading to his children, dinner parties with friends, working on his home in Brooklyn Center, family trips by car and coaching baseball.

Otto was a member of the ACLU, Freedom From Religion Foundation and the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis. He enjoyed repairing almost anything, camping, current events, and debating with others.

A lifelong learner and a history buff, Otto was intrigued by words and language and always had a dictionary nearby. After Jeanette broke her hip in 2017, she and Otto left their Brooklyn Center, Minn., home of 63 years and moved to an assisted living facility in Palo Alto to be near their son.

Otto was a freethinker, humanist, feminist, educator, civil rights advocate and lovingly dedicated to his family.

Otto is survived by his wife Jeanette Frances Link, son John Otto Link, daughter Barbra Frances Link, daughter-in-law Sophia Green, son-in-law Patrick Selmi, grandson Benjamin Link Selmi and his sister Jewel Ecklund.