Carol Elizabeth Link 08/30/1928 - 01/20/2022
After a vibrant and adventurous 93 years of life, Carol was quietly called to rest on Thursday, January 20th of 2022. She spent her last weeks surrounded by family and loved ones, leaving behind her three children, eight grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.
Born in Los Angeles County in 1928 to Martha and Clarence Nipper, Carol entered this world as a force of nature that swept through all things with determination and an adventurous spirit. From her father came her stubborn drive to always “do something,” and from her mother, a generous spirit and great love for others. These qualities carried Carol through life, making her a force of good to be reckoned with (and heaven forbid if you stood in her way).
As a child her parents stoked her love of music, encouraging piano lessons at a young age, and the flute later on in her teenage years. After graduating from Hamilton High School in 1946, she began her higher education at Occidental College. Here, she nurtured her gift for music and her vocal talents by taking part in both the college Glee Club and The Occidental Choir. She graduated in 1950 as an extremely proud alumna, with an Undergraduate Degree in Music Education with a focus on Choral Conducting. She went on to be an elementary school teacher and music mentor for many during her working years. It was also here at Occidental, during an educator’s gathering, that she met the love of her life, high school art teacher, Charles Link. Together, they had three children: David, Dan, and Nancy.
Carol and Chuck planned to be married in July, 1951 at Beverly Vista Presbyterian Church - but there was a slight hiccup; Chuck, in the military at the time, was unable to procure permission to leave base to attend the wedding! Carol, however, having absolutely no patience for being told “no” once she had a plan in motion (and determined to be married) snuck her fiance off base in the trunk of her car to ensure the nuptials took place. Upon arrival, she was horrified to find he had forgotten his shoes! Still, despite this small misstep, the ceremony took place and they were happily married. Shortly after, he was shipped out to Okinawa, a time during which he sent her many gifts, which she treasured, sharing with anyone who visited the house in all the years after. When he returned after the Korean War, they fell in love all over again and in 1955 were blessed with their first child, David.
Carol and Charles were both deeply embedded in the church from a young age, and after returning home, Chuck felt called to attend seminary and became a pastor. Thus began their nomadic life together, making homes in various places all over California. In each new community, Carol became a pillar, as a teacher and as a member of the church - through music programs and participating in community outreach. She believed firmly that, above all things, it was important to follow the teachings of Jesus - to be kind, to accept others, to care for others, and to embody this through acts of service. These were common values that she worked to instill in her children, her grandchildren, her students, and all others in her wide community. At Northminster Presbyterian Church, she took part in creating the “Peace Award” which recognized local youth who illustrated these values and who were contributing in service to their community. She always kept a seat at the table for anyone who needed a place to share a meal, and food in her car for any hungry passersby. She felt justified in volunteering someone else to help with an event or community outreach (sometimes to that someone's surprise), and could be counted on to rally people together for various causes. She participated joyfully in the local CROP walk each year - typically with at least one grandchild tailing along behind, trying to keep up with her ever-brisk pace.
In 1970, the family had settled in Sacramento, where she began teaching 5th grade in the San Juan Unified School District. She loved her career as an educator, and even after retirement, continued working with children in other capacities through the church ministry. In the late 70s, she joined the Sacramento City Chorale, and sang with them for many years before joining the Sacramento Opera Chorus. In 1981 she and her dear friend/fellow Mezzo Soprano, Joan Sweet, were invited to hold a recital: “Two Mezzo Sopranos” at the Crocker Art Museum. Joan describes this experience as the proverbial “feather in their caps,” with a marvelous review in the Sacramento Bee, which noted that at the end of the hour-long performance, “the performers were rewarded with a prolonged applause and were brought out for two extra bows!”
In addition to performing music with the public, Carol participated in the music programs at each church she attended, spending many years in both the vocal and bell choirs at Northminster Prebysterian. She also created many music-based opportunities for young people in the church, including a music & performing arts summer camp with her friend Joan, which ran for several summers in the early 2000s. She often shared that she felt that music was one of the greatest ways she could connect with God, and this remained true throughout her life.
Carol found God in the many beautiful places around her. She relished every opportunity to spend some time in nature, whether it was for a lively stroll around the neighborhood (you were welcome to join if you could keep up) or a visit to Zephyr Point in Lake Tahoe. But their own little slice of heaven in Pleasant Valley easily took first prize as her most beloved place. There, Chuck and their son Dan designed and built a cabin which she and Chuck lovingly named “Beth Shalom” (House of Peace), where many warm and wonderful years were spent there with family. She and Chuck instilled this love of nature and travel in their children, by taking them on many camping adventures around California. She used to say, “we didn’t know what we were doing, but we needed to do it!” Her daughter Nancy recalls that these trips always included stops at local museums and historical spots, and that Carol used to say “when you travel, you have to learn one new thing.” She strove to ensure that every escapade was a valuable and memorable experience.
This sense of adventure was innate in Carol, and she was lucky enough to have a partner who shared that equal desire to travel the world; to see and do as many things as possible, and to learn as much as possible. She had a great drive to experience life at its fullest and if it could be shared in the company of someone she liked, even better! She often roped friends and family into accompanying her to experience music, visit a grand art exhibit, or take a quick trip somewhere new and interesting. Anyone who knew her knew she was not one to spend time sitting around when she could be out participating in life! When she was 80, she and her granddaughter, Kristen discussed her great desire to visit Ireland and see her grandmother's birthplace. With an equally adventurous heart, Kristen exclaimed, “let’s do it!” And so, at 82, she set off to Ireland on a pilgrimage to visit her family hometown and church. One last grand adventure, and to have one connected to her family was incredibly meaningful!
There was nothing more important to Carol in life than the family she came up with, and the family she built with Chuck. To be loved by Carol was to be loved relentlessly, in that she drove each child and grandchild in the direction she envisioned for them, firmly and honestly, and in that she loved each of them with her whole heart. If a family member was in crisis or needed the smallest bit of help, she was always there, with a more-often-than-not very pragmatic lens, and great love in her heart. In her final years she often expressed how proud she was of her family, and loved to share their accomplishments with others. Her three children grew within the talents and hearts of their parents, carrying on the work of living in service to others: David, a Canon of Music in the Episcopal Church, Dan, a chaplain in the Navy & Presbyterian Minister, and Nancy, an Early Educator & community worker focusing on the welfare of young children. It is through her family, the children she taught in the classroom, the music she shared, and the service she gave through the church and beyond, that leaves the mark of her spirit in this world. And, knowing that, we think she would say, with that ever present twinkle in her eye, “that’s just terrific!”
Carol’s Memorial will take place at Northminster Prebysterian Church on February 5th, and 2 O’Clock in the Afternoon. It will also be streamed live, via http://www.northminsteronline.org/ Memories compiled by granddaughters Holly Link.
To send flowers to Carol's family, please visit our floral store.