Michael B. Enzi, 32, K.C.C.H.
United States Senate
Washington, DC

Senator Enzi’s father, a Mason and the Senator’s personal hero, always taught by his actions that character is practically all that counts.

Senator Michael B. Enzi, 32, K.C.C.H.

My dad was my hero, my role model, and my friend. He was a hard worker, independent, and meticulous. He didn’t have a chance to go to college, but he made sure his son and daughter did. He was always proud of his work because he had done more than was expected. He was a salesman and he gave special meaning to that word. He knew the value of a customer. He wanted to provide for the customer’s need. He even went so far as to be sure the customer needed it. He wanted to sell shoes, and he did. He wanted to own a shoe store, and he did. He wanted to help young people get into the business, and he did. He started shoe stores, hired managers to run them, helped them to learn the business, and then sold the business to the manager. He was such a good instructor that each of the people who bought shoe stores that way wound up with more than one shoe store and had most of the same customer ethics as taught by my father. If a person whose feet hurt came to my dad, he fixed them. He would literally spend hours adjusting a shoe to the perfect fit—no extra charge—just the way you help people. He wouldn’t let them buy a shoe that didn’t fit. (He even lost customers by refusing to sell them a shoe that didn’t fit.)

But as he put it, “There are no bad feet on my conscience.” My dad had a lot of sayings and each of them taught a little lesson. He knew when to use them, and he expanded on them a bit to make sure the understanding was complete. Sayings like “It’s easier to do it right the first time than to explain why you didn’t.” He took losses by saying “It’s better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.”

As you can see from a couple of examples, he had his own pithy way of getting the point across. He always taught by his actions that character counts, and that’s practically all that counts. He also said, “Character is how you would act even if no one was watching.” Or, “If it sounds wrong, it is wrong.”

Bro. Elmer J. Enzi, 32, and wife, Dorothy

Part of the time when I was growing up, my dad traveled on the road selling shoes to shoe stores. He had to be gone during the week, but he made the weekends special. During the summer I got to travel with him and see his job firsthand. I’ve got a lot of great instant replay memories of my dad. They help to fill the hurt now that he’s gone.

My dad was also a Mason. He discovered Masonry when he was young and trying to figure out the world. He joined the Scottish Rite. He was a Shriner. Later he became a Knight Commander of the Court of Honour. Once he was appointed to a Grand Lodge office—a cherished time for him. He and my mother were in Eastern Star. They worked their way through the chairs. I remember the year that my dad was the Master of his Lodge. It was a great honor for him. He took the responsibility seriously. He worried about it a lot. He memorized hard. He organized more than I had seen him do on any activity. He did it because he knew Masonry had given him some solid values on which to base his life.

My dad was a religious man. He additionally saw the lessons of Masonry as a way to personally improve himself. When I was 14, my dad encouraged me to be a DeMolay. He became a Chapter Advisor. DeMolay is one of the few organizations I know that teaches respect for others, particularly respect for women. DeMolay provides for public service and personal development.

When I graduated from high school, I picked George Washington University (GWU) to continue my education. I wanted to go into the foreign service and solve problems all over the world. George Washington University is noted for its foreign relations program. So are several other universities. I selected GWU because the Scottish Rite gave a graduate scholarship. That was an endorsement of the University that meant something to me. While I attended the University, I had a chance to walk through the Capitol and other historical sites of the area. I visited Mount Vernon. To this day when I walk through a historic place, I feel the presence of historic figures. I’m in awe of getting to walk where their footsteps went before. You can feel the indentations in the steps. I was impressed at how many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were Masons. I’ve been impressed at the number of Masons through the years who have served our country with a tremendous heritage of good.

I need to mention that during my freshman year at GWU, I decided I didn’t like big cities and that I probably would not like big cities in foreign countries and I might have picked the wrong profession. I decided to return to Wyoming after graduate school and go into business. For graduate school I was offered a Scottish Rite scholarship. I wrote a three-page thank you letter declining the scholarship. The scholarship was given on the understanding that the recipient at some point in his or her life would spend at least three years in government. In the letter I mentioned that I was going to go into business and that I wouldn’t be in government and that my parents taught me that you never accept anything for which you don’t intend to do what you promised.

Since that time I have served eight years as the Mayor of Gillette, Wyoming, during growth years when the city almost tripled in size. I spent ten years in the Wyoming Legislature, five years in the House of Representatives, five years in the Senate. Now I serve in the United States Senate. I still have that letter.

Shortly before I turned 21, I petitioned the Sheridan Lodge No. 8 of Sheridan, Wyoming, for membership. I was initiated during spring break from college along with two of my fellow DeMolays who turned 21. The Lodge went to a special effort so that we might receive our Fellowcraft Degree and be made Master Masons that spring when we arrived home from college. Shortly after that I became a member of the Scottish Rite and participated in a Shrine ceremonial. Over the years I have run into many who share the same brotherhoods. I’ve been impressed at the variety of efforts they’ve been involved in and the number of civic organizations. I’ve been surprised at how many Masons are in local, county, state, and federal government, each working separately to do his best in his job, working diligently to improve himself, and giving of himself where he can.

When I was Mayor of Gillette, we started a new city hall. The building was finished during the next mayor’s term, but I insisted that the tradition started with the cornerstone of the United States Capitol be continued in the city of Gillette. The Masons laid the cornerstone.

In Wyoming at the present time, the Speaker of the House, the president of the Senate and the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee are all Masons, Scottish Rite, and Shriners. The person chairing the Agriculture Committee also happens to be the immediate Past Grand Master, Grand Lodge of Wyoming .

When Grand Lodge met this year, I was invited to speak. I told them about a young man who had been recruited for college football. During his four years he had been “okay” at practice but had never played in a game. Shortly after his senior year began, he had to miss a few days of school. That weekend at the game he had his usual place on the bench. He had already asked the coach to be allowed to play. During the game he made several requests to play. But the game was critical, so the coach wasn’t interested.

Then the star end got injured. The coach had no choice. The young man went into the game and was unbelievable. He worked harder than anyone. He blocked better than anyone and wound up catching the game-winning pass. When the game was over, the coach said to him, “Where have you been the last three years? What got into you tonight?” The kid replied, “I was gone earlier this week because my dad died. He was blind, so he couldn’t see me play. This week he could see me.”

The only relation that story has to my life is that my dad, a member of the Valley of Sheridan, Wyoming, passed away on February 2, 1988. No matter how close you are to your parents, no matter how well you have the capability to talk to them, no matter how able you are to say what’s in your heart, there is no way to really express the love and affection and thanks that we should all express. But I want to tell you I am confident that he is following what I do more closely now than he was able to before. And he is watching me to live up to the ideals taught to me by the Masonic organizations he loved.