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U.S. Senator Mike Enzi

Bill Sniffin: 20 U.S. Senators Attended Mike Enzi Funeral – Unprecedented

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

GILLETTE – Friday’s funeral service for former U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi left no doubt about the amazingly high regard in which he was held in by his fellow U. S. senators.

He was loved and respected by his Senate colleagues as he was loved and respected by the people he represented here in the Cowboy State.

Some 20 U.S. senators traveled to the isolated county seat of Campbell County in northeast Wyoming to celebrate the life of their friend.  

Enzi died July 26 from complications of a bicycle accident. He had retired in January after representing Wyoming in the Senate for 24 years.

About 2,000 people assembled at the Pronghorn Center at Gillette College (just off Enzi Avenue) for the Friday afternoon service.

Speakers included Enzi’s three children, Emily, Amy, and Brad. The service lasted 90 minutes and much like anything connected with Mike Enzi, it was simply elegant, well-organized, and on time.

We chatted with Mike’s wife Diana following the service. Through tears, she shared with us what happened.  She said Mike was riding his bike in Gillette when his Apple watch sent a signal that something bad had happened to him. 

She drove to meet him and found the police at the scene of the bicycle accident trying to revive her husband.  

“They brought him back and that gave us those three days with him before he left us,” she said.

Mike and Diana were married for 52 years and had one of the best relationships of any married couple. They were inseparable.

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, called the funeral turnout unprecedented. 

“There has never been a turnout of this size of U.S. senators for the funeral of an ex-senator,” he said. “This was unparalleled and it just goes to show how beloved Mike was by his colleagues.”

Barrasso described some of the problems other U.S. senators had getting to Gillette. 

Because of historic congressional rules, senators are limited as to how many can travel together in the same plane or vehicle.  

For some reason, Barrasso said, the federal government would not allow the senators’ planes to land in Gillette. Instead, the senators had to land in Casper and ride two hours north by bus.

In addition to Barrasso and Enzi’s Senate successor, U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis, plus U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, other members of Congress in attendance included Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky and Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, John Boozman, R-Arkansas, James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, Mike Rounds, R-South Dakota, Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, John Cornyn, R-Texas, Steve Daines, R-Montana, Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina, James Risch, R-Idaho, Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, Tom Carper, D-Delaware, and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia. 

The service was also attended by former Sens. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, Max Baucus, D-Montana, and Tim Hutchinson, R-Arkansas. Hutchinson also spoke at the service.

Former Wyoming Governors Matt Mead, Dave Freudenthal, and Mike Sullivan were there along with former U. S. Rep. Barbara Cubin. Current Gov. Mark Gordon and his wife Jennie played a major role in the event, including presenting a Wyoming flag to the Enzi family.

There were a great many current and former state legislators and dignitaries, including Secretary of State Ed Buchanan and State Treasurer Curt Meier. I am sure there are a great many whom I have failed to mention here.

Despite this being a celebration of a life well lived, I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness.  We were all mourning for Mike’s wife Diana and their three children and four grandchildren – but we were also mourning for Mike. Here was a man who took care of all of us and now he was gone. You had to wonder just how many more good works he was planning to do for us all.

It was another reminder of the mystery of life and death.  And of how important it is to live each day as if it could be your last. 

Mike Enzi lived that kind of life. I honestly do not know anyone who jammed more into his busy life than Mike.  His presence was more powerful at that service than just about any other funeral I have ever attended.

It was a perfect Wyoming summer day to hold a sendoff for a perfect Wyoming gentleman.  Although we were inside, we could tell that outside the temperatures were in the high 70s with a slight breeze and even an occasional rain shower.

Enzi’s good friend Rev. Donavon Voigt reminded the attendees that Northeast Wyoming was in a terrible dry spell, but four days after Mike passed away, Gillette received a “gully washer” rainstorm. 

He also reminded us that Mike Enzi always said his guiding principles were faith, family, friends, and fishing. 

On this day thousands of his friends and family members said good-bye and to celebrate a life well lived.  

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Former Sen. Enzi Dies Following Bike Accident

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Former U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi has died following a serious bike accident Friday.

Enzi died while surrounded by his family at the UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, Colorado. He was 77.

A social media post from Enzi’s account said he never regained consciousness after being transported by air ambulance from Gillette.

“His family expressed their deep appreciation for all of the prayers, support and concern that has been shown. They now ask for privacy and continued prayers during this difficult time,” the post said. “The family is planning to hold a celebration of a life well-lived, with details being shared at a later date.”

Enzi’s son Brad Enzi posted a message on Twitter over the weekend announcing his father had been injured in the bicycle wreck and taken by air ambulance to a Colorado hospital.

“One of the best basketball fans in the country needs giant prayers tonight after a bike wreck and life flight (Friday) night,” the Twitter message said. “Also happens to be my GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) Dad. Any and all prayers and thoughts accepted no denomination or creed preferred. Just lift him up!”

Brad Enzi posted a follow-up message on Monday night, thanking people for their prayers and support.

“Thanks to all who prayed and sent good thoughts for my dad. Always my GOAT and hero!” Brad Enzi wrote on Twitter.

Enzi served four terms in the U.S. Senate representing Wyoming, winning his first election in 1996 and serving through 2020. Former U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis was elected as his successor after he announced his retirement from Congress.

Before being elected to the U.S. Senate, he served in the Wyoming House of Representatives from 1987 to 1991. He also served as the mayor of Gillette from 1974 until 1982.

Enzi was born in Washington state and grew up in Thermopolis. He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting from George Washington University in 1966 and in 1967, he enlisted in the Wyoming Air National Guard, where he served until 1973.

He obtained his master’s in business administration from the University of Denver in 1968, when he moved to Gillette and opened NZ Shoes.

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Congressional Colleagues Praise Enzi’s Service

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Former U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi was a tireless worker on behalf of Wyoming’s interests in Congress and in Wyoming’s Legislature, other elected officials said Tuesday.

Enzi, 77, died late Monday after suffering serious injuries in a bicycle accident in Gillette on Friday.

Enzi served as a U.S. Senator for four terms and was replaced by U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis after his retirement in 2021.

Lummis, who served as a member of the U.S. House for nine years while Enzi was a senator, recalled Enzi as someone who could work with both parties to accomplish important work.

“He was a soft-spoken leader, but the legislative wins he delivered loudly attest to the impact of his service,” she said. “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.”

U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, who served with Enzi in the Senate for 13 years, described Enzi as “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,” he said. 

Barrasso, who lost his first bid for the Senate to Enzi in 1996 before being appointed to the seat left open with the death of Sen. Craig Thomas in 2007, reflected on Enzi’s reputation as someone who was able to solve problems in Congress.

“Mike was a problem solver through and through,” he said. “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.”

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, whose first campaign for federal office was a campaign against Enzi in 2014, remembered the Republican as a mentor and teacher who was always guided by principle.

“Mike was a straight-shooter, an honest broker, and a soft-spoken but powerful advocate for the causes he cared deeply about,” she said. “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.”

Also sharing fond memories of Enzi was Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the wife of the late former U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy, who served with Enzi on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The two men traded positions as either ranking member or chair of the committee, depending on which party was in power.

However, the Republican Enzi and Democrat Kennedy always worked together on the committee regardless of which party held the reins in the Senate, she said.

“When it came to Mike and Ted’s work together, majority control did not factor into the equation – mutual respect did,” Kennedy said. “And as a result, the committee followed regular order to report out more than two dozen pieces of legislation that passed the full Senate with broad bipartisan support.  At least 17 of those bills ultimately became law.”

The secret to the abililty of the two to work together was their reliance on Enzi’s “80/20” rule — a decision to work together on the 80% of the issues they knew they could agree on.

“Mike Enzi’s 80/20 rule is one we all should strive to live by,” Kennedy said. “The Senate would certainly be a more productive place. And most important, our interactions with each other wold be more civil. I can’t think of a better legacy than that. Thank you, Mike, for showing us the way.”

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Enzi Injured In Bike Wreck, Hospitalized In Colorado

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Former U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi has been injured in a bicycle wreck, according to his son Brad.

Brad Enzi, in his Twitter feed, said his father was life-flighted to a hospital for treatment after the Friday accident.

“One of the best basketball fans in the country needs giant prayers tonight after a bike wreck and life flight (Friday) night,” the Twitter message said. “Also happens to be my GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) Dad. Any and all prayers and thoughts accepted no denomination or creed preferred. Just lift him up!”

No other details on the accident or Enzi’s condition were immediately available.

Enzi, 77, served four terms in the U.S. Senate representing Wyoming, winning his first election in 1996 and serving through 2020. Former U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis was elected as his successor after he announced his retirement from Congress.

Before being elected to the U.S. Senate, he served in the Wyoming House of Representatives from 1987 to 1991. He also served as the mayor of Gillette from 1974 until 1982.

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Wreaths honor fallen Wyoming veterans

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Wreaths
Volunteers lay wreaths on the graves of Wyoming veterans during the “Wreaths Across America” ceremony Saturday at the Oregon Trail Veterans Cemetery in Casper. (Photo: Tim Mandese)
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By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

Volunteers placed wreaths on the graves of 4,200 Wyoming veterans on Saturday as part of a national drive that saw more than 2 million volunteers similarly decorate the graves of service members across the country.

Members of Wreaths Across America were joined by members of the Natrona County Republican Women and Patriot Guard Riders in placing the wreaths on graves during ceremonies at three Natrona County cemeteries.

As part of Wreaths Across American, an estimated 61,000 volunteers laid 400,000 wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery alone. Nationally, more than 2,000,000 participants placed wreaths in 1,640 locations.

In Wyoming, ceremonies were held at the Oregon Trail Veterans Cemetery, the only veterans cemetery in Wyoming. Later in the afternoon, ceremonies were held at Highland Park and Memorial Gardens cemeteries. Dignitaries and participants packed the chapel at OTVC to pay their respects, including U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi.

“Per capita, Wyoming’s volunteering at this event is greater than even those at Arlington,” Enzi said. 

Letters from U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney and U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, in which both expressed their gratitude for Wyoming’s fallen veterans, were also read. 

Casper broadcaster Bob Price served as master of ceremonies for the event, instructing those laying a wreath that as the wreath is placed at the foot of the grave, the person laying the wreath should speak the veteran’s name aloud. 

“A person really dies twice,” he said. “Once when they pass away, and once when their name is spoken for the last time.”

Victoria Lockard, the co-chair for Wreaths Across America’s Natrona County chapter, estimated that 1,000 volunteers took part in the wreath laying in Casper.

She added 3,000 wreaths were placed on graves at the Oregon Trail Veterans Cemetery, 1,000 were placed at the Highland Park Cemetery and 200 were laid at Memorial Gardens.

Each year the number of wreaths placed grows and the number of volunteers grows, Lockard said.

“Each year it continues to grow, and we are so happy with the turnout of our crowd and their generosity,” she said.  

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