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A Link to the Rich and Famous

A Link to the Rich and Famous
Greg Schaber

Movie star Loretta Young came for a visit. So did Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Cincinnati Archbishop Karl J. Alter, Jesuit Superior General Pedro Arrupe, S.J., and former University President Paul J. O’Connor, S.J., dropped by for dinner. And, according to one legend, The Beatles stopped in for a party.

For more than 40 years, Joseph Link’s home—now the Edward B. Brueggeman Center for Dialogue—played host to a mind-bending roster of guests. And at the epicenter of the activity was the charismatic Link, a longtime economics professor at the University who died early last year. Whether the Fab Four story is true or not is immaterial: At Link’s house, it seemed possible.

The 1935 graduate bought the 1920 Tudor-style house, which sits at the edge of campus along what is now the residential mall, in the early 1950s, says his niece, Nancy Murphy. Over the years, it came to mirror his personality.

“He was flamboyant,” says Richard Hirté, vice president for financial administration at the University. “And the house was exactly the same way. There were velvet chairs, tapestries on the wall, thrones, a lot of bright colors and a big lavish bar down in the basement.”

Like his home, Link’s life was ready-made for socializing. An Austrian baron by birth who hobnobbed with European royalty, Link graduated from the Foreign Service Institute in Washington, D.C., served in the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps, and taught at the University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music. He also dated Young, moved in Hollywood circles and served as president of the Vernon Manor Hotel, among other things.

But he is perhaps best remembered as a quick-witted, generous man and a genial host who regularly invited family members and even his plumber to his social gatherings, where he often entertained guests by playing the organ, then slipped off and went to sleep while the party continued.

Ironically, in leaving his home to the University, Link ensured that the party would indeed continue. Although he had no idea the house would become a center for dialogue, it appears that Link’s legacy of bringing people together there will carry on well into the future. And that, Murphy says, is something her uncle surely would love.

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