As Hurricane Irene barreled through the Caribbean Islands en route to the American East Coast, leaving death and disaster in its wake, Brother H.T. Linke prepared to counter its wrath from a recently commandeered emergency headquarters in Southbridge, Massachusetts.
No, he’s not a superhero with the power to control weather or a scientist with an anti-hurricane machine; he is a communicator. More precisely, he is a member of the American Red Cross’s elite National Disaster Relief Public Affairs Team. When disaster rears its ugly head, Brother Linke communicates with the world about how to prepare, survive, recover and help.
A veteran member of the disaster relief team, Linke was on the scene for the 2007 San Diego wildfires, in Texas for Hurricane Gustav in 2008, and in Florida and Louisiana for Hurricane Ike, also in 2008. Following 2005’s Hurricane Katrina, Linke was on hand when nearly 2,000 evacuated families from flood ravaged Mississippi and Louisiana arrived in Los Angeles desperately in need of help from the Red Cross.
While disaster relief is the belle of the ball, Linke spends his days doing equally important work as a Red Cross Chapter Communications Consultant. This entails providing crisis communications and other communications support to the various Red Cross chapters across the nation.
According to Brother Linke, the long hours and hectic pace associated with disaster response work is well worth the effort because he is able to help people in their greatest hour of need.
Some may attribute his years of good will and service as a direct reflection of his time in the U.S. Army or his time as an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire (NH Beta 67’), but it actually stems from his childhood. Unbeknownst to Brother Linke, he was learning the ideals of the True Gentleman everyday from the daily actions of his father, Brother Howard Linke (NH Beta 37’).
Sadly, at the age of 97, Brother Howard Linke passed away in September 2011. A long time member of the San Diego SAE Alumni Association, the senior Linke was a pillar of our association and will be greatly missed.
Reflecting on his father’s passing, his career with the Red Cross and his time with the fraternity, Brother H.T. Linke shared a simple but very important life lesson that I believe sums up his direction in life that has helped so many.
“Once you graduate and enter the world of work, find something you like and get good at it, focus on the excellence of your work and not on advancement alone, and don’t surrender your values for any type of gain no matter how important you might think it would be.” Wise words for us all.
Editors note: — Brother Linke and his wife Carol, a University of New Hampshire Alpha Xi Delta, have two daughters who attended San Diego State University, one of which is a sister of Delta Gamma.