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Former U.S. Senator Mike Enzi Dies

Mike Enzi

Former Wyoming U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi died on Monday, July 26. He was 77.

According to a statement, Enzi died at UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, CO. surrounded by his family. He was life-flighted to the Colorado hospital following a bicycle accident near his home on Friday, July 23, where he sustained serious injuries from which he did not recover.

Many in Congress and across Wyoming are mourning Enzi's death. Enzi's political career spanned more than 40 years and included service as mayor of Gillette, both chambers of the Wyoming State Legislature and the U.S. Senate, where he served for 24 years. He retired this past January from the Senate.

Enzi also headed up two committees in the Senate, the Budget Committee that he chaired and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where he was the ranking member.

Former U.S. Senator Al Simpson, whose seat Enzi won in 1996, said Enzi's death marks a great loss for the state. He said Enzi's lasting legacy will be how he worked across the aisle to get bills passed.

"He knew how to make things work. He knew how to take all the bitterness and the nastiness out of it, sit down with somebody you didn't agree with and make things work," Simpson said.

Current Wyoming U.S. Sens John Barrasso and Cynthia Lummis both called Enzi a mentor.

"He was a soft-spoken leader, but the legislative wins he delivered loudly attest to the impact of his service," Lummis said in a statement. "His retirement left a hole in the Senate, and his passing leaves a hole in our state and in our hearts."

Barrasso echoed a similar sentiment in a speech on the Senate floor.

"At the beginning of each year, each member of [Enzi's] committee made a list of their priorities. Most years there was bipartisan agreement on 80 percent of the priorities. Mike Enzi would then focus on that 80 percent on which they agreed, and he would leave out the 20 percent on which they disagreed," Barrasso said.

"As a result of this approach, Mike Enzi wrote more than 80 bills which were signed into law by four different presidents of the United States - two Republicans and two Democrats."

Many lawmakers throughout the Senate and Congress noted Enzi's death.

"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," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a speech on the floor.

Gillette Mayor Louise Carter-King said Enzi's tenure as mayor helped grow Gillette into the community it now is, with accomplishments like passing the first Optional 1% sales tax and building the Madison pipeline to bring more water into the community.

"He knew that this town could become so much more. And it has, it has, because this community has continued his legacy over all these years," she said.

All also remarked on Enzi's dedication to his family.

"Mike would tell you the achievement that he was most proud of was, of course, his family," Barrasso said. "When he retired earlier this year, Mike said none of this would have happened without Diana. The best thing that ever happened to me, he said, is when she said she would marry him."

Enzi is survived by his wife, Diana, his children and grandchildren.

Catherine Wheeler comes to Wyoming from Kansas City, Missouri. She has worked at public media stations in Missouri and on the Vox podcast "Today, Explained." Catherine graduated from Fort Lewis College with a BA in English. She recently received her master in journalism from the University of Missouri. Catherine enjoys cooking, looming, reading and the outdoors.
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