Robert J. Enright
March 18, 1919 – February 15, 2018
Robert Enright was born into a Mower County farm family and move to Austin at the age of 10. He spent the next 80 years living in the city of Austin, except for the 4 years he served in the U.S. Army Air Force in China-Burma-India Theater. He graduated from St. Augustine High School (later named Pacelli), and was a member of the school’s basketball team and undefeated football team. He was a charter member of Queen of Angel Church He also worked at the Hormel plant for 47 years and was a proud member of the local union. In 1944, he married Ilene Johnson and they had five children.
Enright was a dedicated public servant for over two decades. He was elected as the 3rd Ward Alderman in 1960 and also served as Alderman-at-Large an additional 4 years. He was elected and re-elected Mayor for 10 years (1968-1970 and 1975-1983). He played a crucial leadership role during his years in office with numerous public issues; overseeing the construction of three high-rise residential facilities for the elderly, an extensive street paving and widening program started in the 1960’s, the expansion of the Hormel Nature Center, the evacuation of the Cedar River flood plain and conversion to park land. He worked on a major expansion of Todd Park and the building of a first-class softball complex. He also lead efforts to sign the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency contract to provide the city with long term affordable and reliable energy and was instrumental in the creation of the city’s human relation’s ordinance, the construction of a new fire station, sewage plant and a downtown beautification project.
Enright played an essential role as Mayor in working with Hormel Company Management and local union leadership for the successful construction of the Hormel flagship facility. Upon his retirement, an editorial from the Austin Daily Herald stated – “Bob Enright has a unique set of qualities, too, during his 22 years of successful public serve… One seems to stand above the others: he had the ability to listen. After he had heard people out, he would act with compassion. Many of the public works projects in the city were the end result of Enright’s ability to carefully consider information presented to him from many sources.” His motivation was to do the right thing for the city, even if it was not popular with everyone.