Wyoming Dignitaries and More Honor the Life and Career of Mike Enzi
The political world has been rocked over the past couple of days upon hearing news of former Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi's passing.
It began with a tweet from Enzi's son, Brad, on Saturday. Brad stated that his father had been life flighted after being injured in a bike wreck. Brad asked for prayers and said he would update when he was able.
That update came late Monday night and, unfortunately, it was to announce that the former shoe salesman-turned-US Senator had, indeed, passed away. He was 77 years old.
Words of condolence have been offered by everyone from Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon and Congresswoman Liz Cheney, to former president Donald Trump. This just goes to show the impact that Enzi had, as both a politician and as a human being.
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon put out a statement following Enzi's passing, commemorating his life, accomplishments, and impact he had on the country.
"Mike was a friend and a dedicated public servant who cared deeply about Wyoming and its people. His leadership in the Senate was tireless and productive. He was a strong advocate for the state’s interests and was always committed to finding consensus where possible. He understood what is important for America. We are all heartbroken by this terrible loss. Jennie and I join the thousands offering their prayers and well wishes for Diana and the Enzi family. God Bless you Mike. Thank you for your service, and Godspeed."
Gordon has ordered the Wyoming and United States flags to fly at half mast until sundown on the day of Enzi's interment.
Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney also put out a statement mourning Enzi's passing and recounting how he impacted her life and Wyoming.
"I had the privilege of working with Mike for four years in Congress. He was a mentor and teacher and you could be sure any event that included Mike would be better because of his intellect, his dedication, determination and wonderful dry sense of humor...Whether it was pushing for fiscal discipline as head of the Senate Budget Committee or fighting for the needs of Wyoming's energy industry, Mike was always guided by principle and conviction...He also took great pride in his office's topnotch constituent service operation, continuing the tradition of federal lawmakers working tirelessly on behalf of the needs of the people of Wyoming that lives on to this day. While we mourn his passing, our condolences go out to his wife of more than 50 years, Diana, his three children, and his grandchildren. The legacy he leaves behind will never be forgotten and his memory will be guide for us long into the future."
Senators John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis have also honored their friend.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Senator Barrasso stated that "Wyoming and the nation have lost one of the most consequential public servants of our time."
"Whether he was serving as mayor of Gillette, in the Wyoming Legislature, or in the U.S. Senate, you could not have asked for a stronger champion for Wyoming and our country than Mike Enzi. U.S. Senator Mike Enzi was the trusted trail boss of Wyoming’s congressional delegation. In his four terms in the U.S. Senate, Mike never wavered in his commitment to God, family or Wyoming. Mike was a problem solver through and through. More than 100 Enzi bills were signed into law by four U.S. presidents. Many passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. As the first accountant to chair the Senate Budget Committee, Mike secured a legacy of cutting wasteful spending and making government more accountable to American taxpayers. It was an incredible honor and a great privilege for my wife Bobbi and me to serve the people of Wyoming alongside Mike and his wife Diana. Mike was a mentor to me, a dear friend, and I will miss him tremendously. Family and faith meant everything to Mike. Bobbi and I send our deepest condolences to Diana and their children Amy, Emily and Brad, and all of their beloved grandchildren."
Following Barrasso's comments, Senator Lummis also offered her words. Lummis was the one who actually succeeded Enzi after his retirement in 2019.
"Today, Wyoming mourns the loss of a giant, Mike Enzi. Mike spent his life working to make Wyoming a better place while creating opportunities for our people. Be it as mayor of Gillette or as a U.S. senator and senior statesman, Wyoming has had no greater champion than Mike Enzi. He always put Wyoming first, and worked harder than anyone to serve his constituents. He was a soft-spoken leader, but the legislative wins he delivered loudly attest to the impact of his service. At a time of increasing political incivility, Mike Enzi managed to tactfully navigate the upper chamber, producing results that will be felt for generations to come. His retirement left a hole in the Senate, and his passing leaves a hole in our state and in our hearts. To me personally, he was more than just our senior senator. He was my friend and mentor, and I am heartbroken at his passing. Mike Enzi was a man of God and I take solace knowing that he is at peace. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Diana, children Amy, Emily and Brad, and his four grandchildren at this difficult time."
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell also spoke about his friend and colleague.
"The Senate is stunned and grieving this morning. Our dear friend and former colleague, Senator Mike Enzi passed away last night following a serious bike accident this past weekend. Mike was 77 years old and only about 7 months into retirement. Our friend was blessed with a great American life, and he lived it well. Mike was hugely accomplished but, at the same time, humble. He was powerful. He was influential. But earnest, and deeply kind. He was ambitious; but on behalf of the people of Wyoming, not personal gain or glory. Mike's quarter-century career in the U.S. Senate kept a storied career in public service. He was elected mayor of Gillette, Wyoming at just 30 years old. He was a young husband running a family business. But he saw an opportunity to put a shoulder to help his neighbors. Well, to be more precise, our former colleague and Mike's predecessor, Al Simpson, gave him a not so subtle nudge. It was more like conscription. Gillette needed help and this up-and-comer was exactly what the booming town needed at that time. Diana agreed to let Mike throw his hat in the ring. And the rest is history. The mayor's office eventually gave way to the Wyoming House and the State Senate. And then, this Senate. Here, Mike built a two-part reputation that might have struck people as contradictory. On the one hand, Mike was a principled, hard-nosed, Conservative. He chaired the Help Committee and the Budget Committee with a small businessman's painstaking financial eye. In fact, when he unpacked his office, Mike was the Senate's only trained accountant. He was central to getting generational tax reform off the starting blocks. He was a policy leader in our conference but, at the same time, this principal Westerner was universally known as one of the kindest, most thoughtful, most respectful Senators on either side of the aisle. Mike's famous 80/20 Rule helped him find bipartisan common ground on a long list of significant issues. I know he was particularly proud of his focus on the global fight against AIDS. On the Health Committee, Mike cut important deals with his counterpart and ideological opposite, Ted Kennedy. Neither Senator walked away from his principles; they just wanted to find where those principles actually fit together. Mike's policy wins were many but, at the end of the day, Mike knew what everyone else around here knew; his greatest accomplishment was winning Diana's hand and building their family together. Their marriage, their partnership, was a Senate Institution unto itself.
The Enzi's kindness overflowed into legendary parties and generous gifts for the entire Senate community; especially the behind-the-scenes all stars who do not get thanked nearly enough. So Mike Enzi departed the Senate, having changed policy on law for the better because of his mind. And now, he's departed this life, having changed his friends and his colleagues for the better because of his heart. Today, the entire Senate stands in solidarity with Diana at this tragic time, which has come entirely too soon. Our prayers are with her, their three children, and their grandchildren and the entire family."
Former President Trump also issued a statement.
"My deepest condolences to the family and many friends of former Senator Mike Enzi. He was a fine man who always put America first. He will be missed!"
Additionally, Speaker of the House Eric Barlow issued the following statement:
"On behalf of the Wyoming Legislature, President of the Senate Dan Dockstader and Speaker of the House Eric Barlow extend our deepest sympathies and prayers to the Diana and the entire Enzi family for the loss of Mike. He was a member of our family too, the Wyoming Legislature. He was both a gentleman and a gentle man. He was a genuine witness to his faith, lived his ideals with fidelity and sought knowledge and understanding. He set a high bar in his service to the Wyoming he loved. We celebrate your life, Mike, and hold your family up in prayer."
Dan Dockstader, the President of the Senate, also had some words about his friend, mentor, and colleague:
"My heart ached as I learned of former Senator Mike Enzi’s bicycle accident with serious injuries Monday night and then, later, in the early morning hours of Tuesday, I saw my phone text blink on with a message alerting me to his death. Mike Enzi is a public servant that has always impressed me and I have tried to emulate his work as a U.S. Senator with my work as a State Senator. That is -- just go ahead, put your shoulder down, push forward and do the work, without a lot of attention or fanfare. This was reflected in his work as a mayor, state legislator and then U.S. Senator. You could see the examples of his work ethic on the walls of his office in Washington D.C., a place I have had the opportunity to visit several times with matters regarding the State of Wyoming and Lower Valley Energy. Every wall of Sen. Enzi’s public office was filled with accomplishments -- bills passed, certificates of achievement and momentos of successful working relationships in Wyoming, in Washington D.C. and across this nation. However, you never heard him speak of these in his interviews or multiple public appearances. I found over the years I had to push him a little in our conversations to learn about his work. I visited with him about all of this on several different occasions -- at times when he was sitting in my pickup as we toured Star Valley visiting with people about matters related to government. Other times we had conversations his formal offices and in the living room of his Washington D. C. home, when he and his wife Diana, invited my wife Kim and I to attend the National Prayer Breakfast and stay at their home.
(On that occasion we didn’t want to impose on two wonderful, but two very busy people that were so kind as to share their home. We stayed nearby.)
During that particular trip to D.C. we had great visits in their home, in his public office in the capital city and his private office in the capitol building. The latter office was his privilege as long-term Senator. Those conversations also spilled over to the U.S. Senate floor where I sat at his desk and standing nearby, he did the talking and I did the listening on an incredible career. I learned much from this servant of his fellowman. Mike Enzi was a wealth of knowledge, he had solutions and he got the work done. I studied him carefully. And through it all, this important point. I found him to be a man of faith and one who didn’t hesitate to pray or to offer prayer at the appropriate times. Most of all, I respect him for this important part of his life. I could continue with many other wonderful stories about Mike Enzi and his wife Diana, but time and space does not allow. Let me just say, I was honored to know him and work with him. What an incredible servant for Wyoming and this nation!"
More memories, condolences, and words of praise are sure to come throughout the next few days, weeks, and months. This just shows the impact Senator Enzi had - not just as a political leader, but as a man, a husband, a father, and a human being. From a shoe salesman to a U.S. Senator, Enzi did it all with a grace, compassion, and heart that easily speaks more to his legacy than the laws he passed ever will.
Video of the comments from Senator Barrasso and Republican Leader McConnell can be seen below: