MISSOULA - Following a five-month battle with pancreatic cancer, word came that Missoula Mayor John Engen died Monday morning surrounded by his family and friends.
He was 57 years old. He'd been diagnosed with cancer just last March and had been undergoing chemotherapy.
Now "acting" Mayor Gwen Jones — surrounded by council members, department heads and other city leadership — made the official announcement of his passing and talked about the accomplishments of Missoula's longest-serving mayor.
Watch the full news conference discussion Engen's passing below.
Engen was described as warm, kind and approachable as he worked through the recession and a pandemic — and bought a water company. But it was his leadership style and personality that helped get Missoula through some rough times.
"I was thinking of his accomplishments and I look back over the last 17 years and I truly believe John Engen pulled this community forward and helped it transition from a town into a vibrant city," Missoula City Council President Gwen Jones said during a Monday afternoon news conference. Its identity continues to evolve but because of his vision and leadership I think he has positioned us well for whatever the future brings us
"He always knew what to say. He knew what to say to console us. He would know exactly what to say to us today to console us and reassure us that everything was going to be ok. he would know what to say to motivate us, he would know what to say to lead us and he would know what to say to bring us to common ground. And that was John Engen's strength," added Missoula City Council Vice President Jordan Hess. "He had this long-term way of thinking that will be felt for decades. We will see his fingerprint on the city for decades.
"It's just a hard day for the City of Missoula and we're just going to figure it out and go forward with as much grace as John led this city with," Jones noted.
"He left us in good hands," added Missoula City Council Vice President Jordan Hess.
Applications for candidates interested in running for mayor of Missoula will be accepted beginning on Tuesday.
Engen was first elected as mayor in 2005 and was serving his fifth term in office.
He was Missoula's 50th and longest-serving mayor.
Monday evening's Missoula City Council meeting has been canceled following Engen's death.
The business from Monday's agenda will be taken up on Aug. 22, 2022.