Members of the Missoula City Council on Monday night expressed condolences and support for Mayor John Engen and the loss of his mother, saying he did yeoman’s work as her primary caretaker at the end of her life.
Engen’s mother, DeLores Engen, passed away last week at the age of 92.
“I know how much she meant to him and how hard he worked these past few months, if not these last few years, to be a caregiver for her, and how much that takes out of a person,” said council member Jesse Ramos.
Engen initially announced the passing of his mother publicly on his campaign website and described her death as a huge loss. The day before, he attended a campaign debate hosted by the Missoula Downtown Partnership.
He has expressed gratitude for the support he has received over the past week.
“It’s very impressive that an older man like that would take his mother in, in the situation she was in, and give the care that he did for her,” said council member John Contos. “That’s pretty impressive, and it says a lot about him.”
Engen described his mother as a “strong, smart, lovely and hard-working woman” who provided a loving home. Taking care of her at the end of her life was a privilege, he added.
“It was quite a feat and a lot of us saw first-hand the emotional toll it took on him in the later part,” said council member Stacie Anderson. “He said she took such good care of him when he was born and raised that it was the least he could do. It says a lot about him and her, the kind of woman she was.”
In January, the mayor confirmed publicly that he had contracted Covid-19, just weeks after his mother had contracted the virus. Engen had brought his mother home to ensure her care.
“I think about the fact that he got Covid taking care of his mother when she got Covid, and they got through that together,” said council member Amber Sherrill. “It’s been a long road for him. While he’s really happy he’s been able to be there for her, the end of it’s been very hard.”