Joseph R. Links II
1945 - 2013
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(News Article) Joseph R. Links II, who was honored for his teaching skill and helped start what became one of the largest computer software firms of its kind, died Tuesday in Ebeid Hospice Residence, Sylvania. He was 68.

He had colon cancer, said his daughter, Gretchen.

Mr. Links, formerly of West Toledo, was chief executive of Software Alternatives Inc. when the company folded in the early 1990s. The business at its peak had several hundred employees and branches across the United States. It had grown to $14 million in annual sales and was a key software supplier for IBM.

The firm's roots could be traced to 1967 when Mr. Links, a graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College, was hired by IBM for its Cleveland office and he met another new employee, William McGinnis. IBM transferred Mr. McGinnis to its Toledo office, and he went on to teach at the University of Toledo. Mr. Links took over in the Toledo office and later followed his friend to UT.

Mr. Links became coordinator of the computer programming technology department at UT's community and technical college. In 1974, he was named a UT "Outstanding Teacher."

"He got to help so many people, not only in the classroom," his daughter said, "but find jobs later on and employed them" at Software Alternatives.

Jim Dunn, a longtime friend who worked for Mr. Links - and later employed him - said: "He put people in front of opportunity and saw what people could do that the people themselves didn't see."

Mr. Links and Mr. McGinnis became programming consultants, and when the volume of business expanded beyond part-time status, they formed Software Alternatives in 1978.

They took on three others as founding partners. The plan was to stay small, "but by the summer of 1983, when IBM decided it needed closer alliances with the people who were programming its computers, that changed," Mr. Links told The Blade in 1988.

In the late 1980s, the firm moved to a 25,000-square-foot space in Maumee's Arrowhead Park.

In part because of the firm's tremendous growth - it started with $5,000 in capital - Mr. Links was named as a northwest Ohio Entrepreneur of the Year in 1989.

"He was probably one of the more brilliant guys I met in the computer industry," Mr. Dunn said.

Mr. Links knew the technical side but was especially effective in sales.

"Joe could program, but his real strong suit was communicating," Mr. Dunn said.

Software Alternatives closed only a few years later after changes at IBM led to reduced business from the computer giant.

Mr. Links' next stop was accounting firm Ernst & Young.

"He did it like he did everything - with a smile on his face," Mr. Dunn said. "My nickname for him was the Professor of Hope. Everyone he touched he made better."

Mr. Links later led small information technology companies, but most recently had returned to sales, his daughter said.

He was born July 15, 1945, to Leatrice and Joseph Links and grew up in East Toledo. He was a 1963 graduate of Waite High School, where he played tackle on the football team. He also played football at Baldwin-Wallace.

He was a fan of Ohio State University football - for several years he attended every home and away game - and he liked to golf and fish.

He and his wife in recent years lived at Posey Lake near Hudson, Mich.

Surviving are his wife, Barbara Links, whom he married in 1965; daughter, Gretchen Mills; son, Greg Links; brother, Jeff Links; sister, Mary Links, and five grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday in the Ansberg-West Funeral Home. Services will be at 11 a.m. Monday in Reformation Lutheran Church, where he was a member.

The family suggests tributes to the church or Ebeid Hospice Residence, Sylvania.

Contact Blade Staff Writer Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.
Published in The Blade on Jul. 26, 2013.
Memories & Condolences
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39 entries
January 1, 2017
Valenda Newell
December 28, 2016
Just found out today that Joe passed away. Joe was the mentor in my life that shaped my entire future. I owe a sincere debt of gratitude to him as a mentor, friend, and supervisor at Community Technical College as a student worker.
Steven Rife
October 14, 2014
May God bless you and your family in this time of sorrow.
April 27, 2014
My teacher, first boss and mentor. I was truly lucky to have crossed paths with Joe at ComTec and he was instrumental at guiding my career after Software Alternatives.

Truly a good man that touched and influenced many.
Michael Noble
September 18, 2013
I follow the Senior Joseph R Links all my young life and its quite an honor to be named after a great man like JR Links fortunately I'm also Joseph R Links and maybe one day I will meet my Toledo Family God Bless Aunty Barbara and fam
Joseph R Links
September 2, 2013
I just learned of Joe's death over this Labor Day weekend. The was one of the greatest guys I ever knew. I worked with him in the early days of Software Alternatives. I guess I'm the lucky one since I am a ten year survivor of colon cancer. Joe will be in my prayers and his family in my heart.
Gary Wahl
August 11, 2013
Great friend and football teammate at Waite HS. To my right tackle from his right guard.
Bill Hayes
August 1, 2013
I was so sad to hear about Joe's passing. I will be thinking of you and your family, may your wonderful memories get you through this difficult time. Always in my thought and prayers!!
Wendy Frick-Derby
July 29, 2013
There aren't enough words to express my thanks to Joe for all that he did for me. He was truly one of a kind. An inspiration and one of the most remarkable men I've ever had the opportunity to meet. The last 30 years of my life would not have been possible without him. Thanks Joe. May God bless you and your family.
Gerald Kern
July 29, 2013

We share your loss with the passing of Joe. We always enjoyed his smile and positive outlook and are sorry for your loss.

Jim & Jamey
July 28, 2013
Barb, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Know that we are thinking of you.
Mary (Fisher) and Bob Pigott
July 28, 2013
Please accept my sympathy in the loss of your Dad.

Bill Buehrer
Bill Buehrer
July 28, 2013
Barb, my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this trying time.
Pam (Gladieux) Van den Doleweert
July 28, 2013
My thoughts and prayers are with you during this diffucult time. Cherish the memories you have win your brother .
Barbara Cherko-Kissel
July 28, 2013
sorry about your dad he was nice man i will pray for him and light a candle sandy lewandowski
July 27, 2013
Joe always had a positive, upbeat attitude, willing to help others succeed. I knew him in two environments: as the IBM rep working with him during the successful years at Software Alternatives and the instructor at UT (also my IBM account). I fondly remember our times together talking about education of college students. (My wife had him for an instructor and loved his teaching methods.) I know he was instrumental in building the computer curriculum. He influenced me to return to community college teaching when I retired from IBM. It was always a pleasure working with him. May you all remember all the good times he shared with you and may God bless his soul.
Gene Hodulik
July 27, 2013
Links Family' Joe and I went to Waite together and played on the same team. From SAI to BGR he always watched out for me, my life will be a bit less bright. I'll miss him but he will live in my heart.
Terry Hager
July 27, 2013
Barb and family; To say he will be missed by all of us in New York,is certain. We have all been impressed by him in ways to numerous to count. His partnership with you and the resulting family only emphasizes the intelligence others have spoken of. We all wish we could have spent more time out there and could be there now but circumstances interfere. We pray for your strength and Gods peace to be upon you.
Skip,Barb,Chris, RJ Mills
July 27, 2013
Joe was a very nice guy who we remember from high school. Our sympathies are with the family.
Karen Roscoe Ross and Bob Lengel
Karen Ross
July 27, 2013
Barb - I am so sorry for your loss and your family's loss. Hopefully memories will be a comfort to you. Bonnie (Patrilla)
Bonnie Curry
July 26, 2013
Greg and family,
So sorry to hear of your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you! Heaven gained two great men this week.
Stacy (Stalter) Hathaway
July 26, 2013
Greg, so sorry for your and your family's loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this time. Maybe Joe and Larry are organizing the tailgates together in heaven!
Matt Stalter
July 26, 2013
Sincere condolences to the Links family from Florida from Bill & Louise Schira and family. Friends of Jeff.
Bill & Louise Schira
July 26, 2013
We are so sorry to read of your brother's death. I remember him well from being at your childhood home on E. Broadway. What a handsome and nice man he was. You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.
Kathy and Floyd Danyi
July 26, 2013
My thoughts and prayers are with the entire family. What I'll remember about him most, is his laughter and smile. Also his willingness to help anybody he could. He will be missed.
Elizabeth Zittle
July 26, 2013
My heart goes out to the whole family at this sad time. and prayers to all as our loved one spirits soar on this sad departing. always in our love ones hearts. micki evans
micki evans
July 26, 2013
Teacher, Mentor, and the best friend anyone could ask for. He touched so many lives. He taught us that the relationships we build, the family we love, and the people we are there for are the greatest riches we can hope to achieve. So many would not be who we are without his supportive hands. He will always be in our hearts.
Dave Danko
July 26, 2013
Barb and family
Sincere condolences on Joe's passing. He was a fine man and we have many happy and fun memories of times spent at Posey Lake and Skip's on Thursday nights. May God bless you during this difficult time.
Jon and Carol Herbster
July 26, 2013
Barb & Family,
You have my Deepest Sympathy in the loss of Joe. I remember the Links Family well as they lived near my Grandma Starkey. May you find Comfort in the Memmories as time goes by they become even sweeter. God Bless You All.
Sandie Kayden
July 26, 2013
Joe enriched the life of everyone who knew him. I had the pleasure and honor of working with him at two companies over the past 30 years. Great fishing trips, Ohio State vs. U of M rivalry and pranks, and Joe's awe-inspiring storytelling skills... Such great times and such a great man!

Joe will be missed, but the world is a far better place for having had him in it. He was one of a rare breed who truly made a difference.
Debbie Martin
July 26, 2013
My thoughts and prayers are with you all. As I told Gretchen, I know my dad was waiting with open arms to see his best friend. Just think of them watching all those games together again. (poor Joe, do you think my dad will talk kinder in heaven?)Love to you all.
Shannon Aman
July 26, 2013
Carolynn Corthell
July 26, 2013
We send our love and prayers to you... Deepest condolences ... May his memory be eternal...
Niki Brass
July 26, 2013
I will truly miss Joe. We talked football, business, and the outdoors. I fished and hunted with Joe. He provided me the courage to go into business for myself. May his family have comfort in knowing how many people Joe helped.
Jack Seitz
July 26, 2013
There won't be another one like Joe. He was the ultimate purveyor of the win/win scenario.
James Dunn
July 26, 2013
Joe was one of the good guys. Always positive and cheerful he mentored hundreds of people. Gods speed Joe. You will be missed.
John Hill
July 26, 2013
Anyone who knew Joe could write a book about him, and they would all be best sellers! But, simply put, Joe was truly one of the finest men I ever knew!
Steve Kiker
July 26, 2013
Greg, Kelly and family
My thoughts and prayers are with you in the loss of your Father and Grandfather.
Gloria Krupp
July 25, 2013
Barb and Family,
Please accept our deepest sympathy on your loss of Joe. He will be missed greatly by all who knew him. He was a wonderful and kind man. Your many memories will comfort you and may the
Good Lord give you strength.
Bill & Joyce Meyers
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