Surrounded by her loving family, Shelly Rae Hjelvik Link passed peacefully from this life on Aug. 17, 2017, at Billings Clinic. Although blessed with excellent health and having no symptoms of illness, 13 days after complaining of a headache, she was overtaken by Stage IV Melanoma.
Shelly met the love of her life, John G. Link IV, on Feb. 5, 2000. They married exactly one year later and began building a life together in Red Lodge. Shelly and Johnny’s love for each other was radiant, and was demonstrated daily through robust humor, unshakable optimism and warm fellowship with friends near and far.
As a clear-eyed realist, Shelly was inspirational. “Build a bridge and get over it,” she would advise someone who was slow to resolve a problem. Whether motivating, joining, leading or following, she connected to everyone around her and made them feel special.
Shelly loved spending time with Johnny in their peaceful Red Lodge home, known as “the sanctuary.” Whether hosting a party for dozens of friends or spending time alone with Johnny and their dogs, she treasured their special place. “Being home is all we need,” she often told her husband. Shelly appreciated the beauty in everyday objects she called “my treasures,” and enthusiastically decorated every room in their home for Christmas. She was a gifted gardener who grew beautiful flowers and collected pinecones she described as “God’s miracles.”
A devoted daughter, Shelly telephoned her parents, John and Donna Hjelvik, every morning in a “wakeup call,” to chat about the day. No matter where they were, at home or traveling, she tracked them down — until she was admitted to the hospital.
Frugal, precise and grounded, Shelly examined the family budget every Sunday morning. Yet she enjoyed letting Johnny talk her into wonderful vacations, usually traveling with dear friends.
Shelly actively supported Johnny’s interest in softball, hockey and alpine skiing and she became the “mom” of every team, baking for the squad. Despite having poor vision, she especially loved golfing with Johnny. Exercise was important to her and, in warm weather, she explored Red Lodge area hiking trails several times a week. She bought a lottery ticket each week, announcing that if she won she would buy land in Red Lodge and create a community space for kids to gather and grow stronger through healthy programs. It would be called “Shelly’s Place.”
Sadly, these dreams were cut short. On the evening of Aug. 17, scores of friends joined in a candlelight vigil in Red Lodge, a “Shelly Rally.” It was streamed via Internet to Shelly’s hospital room. Yet her own candle of life was rapidly dimming, and Shelly Link passed away a few hours later.
Born July 19, 1962, in Columbus, Shelly was proud to have attended a one-room schoolhouse with her brother and sisters in Nye through the eighth grade. She graduated from Absarokee High School in 1980, then Kinman Business College in Spokane, Washington. Having mastered property title and escrow services, she was a professional for Chicago Title in Billings and American Title and Escrow in Red Lodge for the past 30 years.
Shelly Rae Hjelvik Link, wife of John G. Link IV, was the daughter of John and Donna (Mouat) Hjelvik of Nye. She also leaves her eldest sister, Laurie Winter of Ashland, Oregon, and her children Zach of Rochester, MN and Nick (Chloe) and their children Max and Clark of San Francisco. Shelly is also survived by her older sister, Tracey (Mike) Gates of Hysham, and their children Crystal (Tyler) Reichhoff and their daughter Paige of Bozeman and Heidi (Logan) McDonald of Laurel; and her younger brother Mikol (Amanda) Hjelvik and their children Matisen (Cody), Remington and Dawson. She is also survived by her daughter Brande (Clayton) Young of Absarokee and their children Caitlin, Keara and Tysen, and also special family friend Kaitlin Wolff.
Shelly was dedicated to her pets, and will be missed by dogs Bella and Tikka. Those preceding her in death were Rigby, Rollie, Rigby Junior, and Abbey.
The radiant light of Shelly’s memory will forever illuminate the paths of those she leaves behind. “Our hearts are knitted together.”
A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Friday, Aug. 25, outside Nye Community Church. A celebration of her life will immediately follow at Anipro Event Center outside Absarokee.
In lieu of flowers, contributions in Shelly’s honor may be made to Beartooth Humane Alliance, or Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, attn: Youth Programs.