Longtime Harbor Branch leader passes away at age 94

VERO BEACH — Longtime Harbor Branch leader Marilyn C. Link has passed away at the age of 94.

“Florida Atlantic University lost a true friend with the passing of Ms. Marilyn C. Link,” the agency said in a statement. “As the matriarch and director emerita of our FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, no one advocated more for its success, vitality and legacy than Marilyn.”

Link’s brother, inventor Edwin A. Link, was the visionary for Harbor Branch who inspired Seward Johnson Sr. to become its founder in 1971. They relied on Ms. Link during the establishment of the Institute. She served as its first managing director.

She attended Syracuse University and graduated from the aviation and flight-training program at Stephens College. She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from New York University and her master’s degree from the University of Illinois.

As a pioneering pilot, educator and philanthropist, Marilyn’s illustrious career gave her a breadth of experience and inspired generations of students at FAU and other educational organizations.

For more than 40 years, Ms. Link demonstrated her commitment to Harbor Branch in countless ways.

“In 2012, we bestowed upon her FAU’s highest honor, the President’s Distinguished Service Medallion, for her staunch advocacy of Harbor Branch research and educational programs, active engagement with university leadership, participation on the HBOI Foundation Board of Directors, personal charitable contributions and her passion for ensuring 42 years of the renowned FAU Harbor Branch Summer Intern Program through her beloved Link Foundation,” FAU said in a statement.

Ms. Link was integral to carrying out the mission of the Link Foundation, which has provided grants totaling more than $13 million to universities and non-profit organizations since its inception. In 1965, FAU established the first undergraduate ocean engineering program in the country, with help from a grant from the Link Foundation.

Her determination made a lasting impact on the lives of countless students, faculty and staff.

“She adored helping people meet their potential, doing whatever she could to foster, promote and show appreciation for their talents,” the agency said. “What we might miss most is her quick wit and ability to make a room full of people laugh, while inspiring them with her philosophy of working tirelessly and giving whole-heartedly to the cause that you believe in most. Just last week, Marilyn attended a Link Foundation Board meeting held at FAU Harbor Branch. We find comfort in knowing that she was able to do what she loved until her last moments. Marilyn Link’s legacy lives on in an immeasurable way and will forever be part of the fabric of FAU.”

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