Retired U-S Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming has died of injuries suffered in a bicycle accident Friday near Gillette. He was 77.
Former Enzi spokesman Max D’Onofrio says the former senator died peacefully Monday surrounded by family and friends.
Enzi received a broken neck and ribs in the bike accident. He’d been stabilized at the Gillette hospital before being flown Friday to the hospital in Loveland where he later died.
Nothing is known about Enzi’s accident. Police say they’ve seen no indication anybody else was nearby or involved.
A Republican known as a consensus-builder in an increasingly polarized Washington, Enzi retired from the Senate in January after 4 terms.
His “80-20 rule” called on colleagues to focus on the 80% of an issue where legislators tended to agree and discard the 20% where they didn’t.
“Nothing gets done when we’re just telling each other how wrong we are,” Enzi said in his farewell address to the Senate in 2020. “Just ask yourself: Has anyone ever really changed your opinion by getting in your face and yelling at you or saying to you how wrong you are? Usually that doesn’t change hearts or minds.”
Enzi was born Feb. 1, 1944, in Bremerton, Washington, but his family moved to Thermopolis soon after. He graduated from Sheridan High School in 1962 and from George Washington University with a degree in accounting in 1966. He received a master’s in retail marketing from the University of Denver in 1968.
Enzi married Diana Buckley in 1969 and the couple moved to Gillette where they started a shoe store, NZ Shoes. They later opened two more NZ Shoes stores, in Sheridan and Miles City, Montana.
From 1985 to 1997, Enzi worked for Dunbar Well Service in Gillette, where he was an accounting manager, computer programmer and safety trainer.
Enzi’s political career began at 30 when he was elected mayor of Gillette. He served a pair of 4-year terms, then was elected to the Wyoming House in 1986 and the State Senate in 1991.
The decision in 1996 of Republican Senator Alan Simpson to retire and not seek reelection opened the way for Enzi’s election to the Senate. He beat John Barrasso in a nine-way Republican primary and then Democratic former Wyoming Secretary of State Kathy Karpan in the general election,
Barrasso would join Enzi in the Senate a decade later when he was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the death of Senator Craig Thomas. Barraso was reelected to a second full term in 2018.
Enzi’s family expressed appreciation for prayers and support they’ve received but asked for privacy, D’Onofrio said, adding that the family is planning “a celebration of a life well-lived” with details to be announced later.
Enzi is survived by his wife; two daughters, Amy and Emily; a son, Brad; and several grandchildren.