Hundreds of Missoulians crowded into Ogren Park at Allegiance Field on Saturday morning to honor the late five-term City of Missoula Mayor John Engen.

In addition to personal friends and colleagues, several major figures in Missoula politics shared words of love and praise for the late mayor.

One of the first tributes came from the man who preceded John Engen as mayor, Mike Kadas, who was the first to suggest to Engen that he would make a good mayor, himself, which Engen eventually warmed up to.

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“Wow, I could really make a difference in the city I love,” began Kadas. “What an honor to help Missoula come together and move forward. Of course, he ran and won and started his first term on January 2, 2006. To help him get his feet on the ground, I left for Nicaragua two days later, (laughter).”

One of the speakers who worked closely with Mayor Engen on many issues was Executive Director of the Missoula United Way, Susan Hay Patrick, who referred to Engen as ‘my personal Mayor’.

“We fight on to protect and advance John Engen's vision for our community of Missoula that offers the promise of equity, and opportunity,” said Hay Patrick at the close of her comments. “That is a vision worth fighting for. Missoula will miss you more than it realizes. John Engen, thank you and Godspeed, my personal mayor, my beloved friend.”

Former Congressman Pat Williams related a story of how the mayor interacted with a third-grade boy in a café who said ‘that guy is cool'! Williams echoed that sentiment.

“Engen was really cool,” said Williams. “That's what he was. He was all of the other things you'll hear today, and things we’ll tell and hear about John for the remainder of our lives, But leave it to a third grader to get it exactly right. John Engen was cool.”

Senator Jon Tester also spoke of his friend John Engen and the measure of his legacy to Missoula.

“Sharla’s uncle, a member of the greatest generation, once told me that you can judge a person's success in life by the number of friends he has,” began Senator Tester. “John Engen was an incredible success. Just look around. He is also somebody that each and every one of us is going to miss. I've always said that anybody can be replaced and anybody can be replaced, but it's going to take about half a dozen people to replace John Engen. Rest in peace, my friend.”

Also speaking at the ceremony was former Governor Steve Bullock.

The Big Sky Mudflaps provided music to begin the ceremony, which closed with a bagpiper playing ‘Amazing Grace’.

You can view the presentation on the MCAT website.

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