Posted on: November 21, 2023
Dr. Nelson E. Link, age 86, died on November 1, 2023 (All Saints Day) at Hospice House, Bristol, Tennessee. Nelson was born on August 15, 1937, in Danville, Virginia, the son of the late Dura Hardy Link and Oscar Thornton Link. He graduated from George Washington High School in 1955. Nelson received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia in 1959, where he was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity. While at UVA, he was selected to the honor societies of Phi Eta Sigma, Intermediate Honors as well as America’s most prestigious academic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa. Nelson received his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1963 from the University of Virginia School of Medicine and completed his residency training at the University of Florida and the University of Virginia.
Nelson served his country for three years as a major in the United States Army at Tripler Army Hospital during the Vietnam War. After completing his military service, he joined the surgical practice of his fellow UVA alumni Dr. Claude Crockett in 1971. Together they built their medical practice over the next 35 years serving thousands of patients focusing on otolaryngology, head and neck surgery, and cosmetic surgery.
Nelson met and fell in love with Joan West Barnett in the summer of 1959, and they were married December 19, 1960, during his second year of medical school. Nelson was a loving and devoted husband for 63 years. They had three sons during his years of residency training and what a blessing to see them grow.
Throughout his life Nelson lived by the creed “Work Hard/Play Hard.” He enjoyed many different sports over his lifetime. He was an enthusiast of tennis, snow and water skiing, scuba, surfing, and hunting. However, his two main passions were golf and fly fishing. Joan and Nelson enjoyed many winters on the ski slopes and summers playing golf and spending time on South Holston Lake. Nelson took pride in teaching his sons all his many passions and he treasured the many family ski trips, fishing and hunting trips, beach trips, as well as many water sports.
During his career, Dr. Link served as president of the Sullivan – Johnson County Medical Society in 1979 and served on the Board of Directors of Bristol Memorial Hospital from 1981-1984 and 1993-1996. He was the first chairman of Bristol Professional Park and participated in the formation and building of the Bristol Surgery Center. Dr. Link was a fellow of the following Societies: The American College of Surgeons, the American Academy of Otolaryngology/Head and Neck Surgery, the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery, and a founding member of the American Academy of Liposuction Surgery.
Following his retirement in 2006, Nelson continued to actively serve his community and his Lord. He served on the boards of Healing Hands, Bristol Faith in Action, the Bristol Rotary Club, and the YMCA. Nelson was very active at First Baptist Church where he served as a Deacon Chair in addition to other committees.
Nelson is survived by his wife Joan, and three sons: Nelson Edward Link, Jr., and his wife Angie Carter Link; Taylor Steven Link; Michael Hardy Link and Jennifer Erickson. Nelson was blessed with six grandchildren who he adored: Allison Link Oakey and her husband Sam Oakey; Meredith Carter Link; Taylor Link and her husband Joe Mikuszewski; Cooper Steven Link; Georgia Dimple Link; and Nelson Paxton Link. He had one great granddaughter, Riley Hope Mikuszewski, and Jennifer’s three children, Abigal, Houston, and Colton Erickson. Nelson enjoyed a larger extended family including his brother Tom, and many aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Nelson was a devoted friend and maintained life long treasured relationships from each of his life’s many chapters.