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Lorraine Link

July 11, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back -- through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others -- at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Lorraine Link, who died July 2 at the age of 62. Her obituary was published in the July 5 edition of The Herald-Mail.

When Brad Clawson became chief ranger for C&O Canal National Historical Park 18 months ago, he learned one lesson quickly.

"The theme of the office was 'ask Lorraine' if you needed anything," Brad said. "I soon learned to go to her for everything."

Lorraine worked a total of 20 years for the park service -- five years at Harpers Ferry (W.Va.) National Historical Park and the last 15 years for C&O Canal National Historical Park.

Just 62, she was stricken June 23 while exercising, said her daughter, Michele Nokes. There was no warning and no time to prepare for this tremendous loss.

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With no time to adjust, Michele said she still is trying to grasp the reality of losing her mother.

"Mom called me every morning to make sure I got to work all right," Michele said. "Then, I would call her at night to check on her."

Lorraine's son, Andy, said he, too, will miss the phone calls between him and his mother.

"We talked so much," he said. "She was like my best friend."

Lorraine's parents live in Hampshire County, W.Va., and Michele said they drove to Hagerstown every day to visit their daughter.

While eating lunch with his nephews last week, Andy said they talked about Lorraine's good cooking.

"I'd always ask for pork chops on my birthday," Andy said. "And she'd always fix them for me."

Born in Winchester, Va., Lorraine came to Hagerstown when her late husband, Carroll Link, went to work for Mack Trucks. Both of their children grew up in Hagerstown.

"Mom stayed home with us until we were in middle school," Michele said. Lorraine then went to work at Harpers Ferry, where she combined outdoor and office work.

When she came to work for the C&O Canal, Lorraine became administrative assistant for the visitors service, resources manager and budget analyst. She also worked in Brad's division of visitor and resource protection -- the law enforcement wing of the canal.

"We shared an office," Brad said.

Lorraine always planned her vacations and days off around the payday schedule, making sure no one missed getting paid.

Brad and several other co-workers traveled to Hampshire County for the July 7 funeral. Brad spoke at the service.

Close to her co-workers, Lorraine also was devoted to her growing family. Rick Nokes, Lorraine's son-in-law, said he was welcomed into the family 24 years ago like he was a son.

"Our son, Brandon, 16, plays baseball and she went to his games a lot," Rick said. The couple's younger son, Zachary, 12, had been staying weekends with his "Nanny" since his grandfather died four years ago.

"It was his idea," Rick said.

Lorraine's "family" also includes her church -- the Brownsville Church of the Brethren. Alan Smith, the current pastor, said he came to know Lorraine 2 1/2 years ago when he first came to the congregation.

"Lorraine founded the prayer shawl ministry at our church," Alan said. "I'd never heard of it before, but Lorraine thought it would be a good idea to start one."

The ministry came about when Lorraine was shopping for a crochet pattern and she found a book on prayer shawl ministry right behind the pattern she chose.

"It started last November in a Sunday school class taught by my wife," Alan said. In that short time, there have been many stories of a prayer shawl bringing comfort.

A prayer shawl given to a young girl with cancer was very comforting to her, Alan said. The recipients of the shawls are suggested by church members.

"Since November, we have made more than 100 prayer shawls," said Jackie Snoots, who was one of eight members of the ministry.

"Lorraine was such a quiet inspiration and had such a vision that we are going to rename the group 'The Links of Love,'" Snoots said.

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