WEST VALLEY CITY Ed Mayne always looked out for the little guy, a quality his family and friends recalled Friday at services for the late state senator and longtime labor leader.
"My dad was a man of the people," Mayne's son, Paul, told the nearly 1,000 people including political and union leaders gathered in the lofty hall of West Valley's Cultural Celebration Center.
The prayers of the AFL-CIO president and influential Democrat always ended with a special blessing for the unemployed, the homeless and others in need, Paul said, describing his father as a man who also enjoyed a trip to Wendover to play the slot machines.
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., a Republican, praised Mayne for focusing as a lawmaker on issues aimed at lifting, promoting, healing and offering hope "to the corners of the community that need it most."
Better known as "Eddie," Mayne, 62, died of cancer Sunday at his West Valley home, surrounded by his family. He had served as a state senator since 1994 and was assistant minority whip.
Salt Lake County Councilman Randy Horiuchi said that while both he and Mayne liked to exaggerate, the simple truth is that "Ed Mayne did more for everyday Utahns than any public official in the history of the state."
In addition to the legislation and labor initiatives that Mayne was directly involved in, Horiuchi said the "Great Oz" was often instrumental behind the scenes in getting projects funded, such as a senior center in Kearns.
Horiuchi, too, said that Mayne had a special touch with those who most needed help. "He was their hero."
Another Democrat, Blaze Wharton, a former state senator who first met Mayne 30 years ago, said he "never disregarded or dismissed anyone" and earned the respect and even the affection of the state's dominant GOP.
And Wharton said that although he counted their close relationship as one of the most important in his life, it was not unique. He said many of the men and women in the audience some in business suits, some in work clothes shared the same relationship with Mayne.
Mayne's daughter, Jamie Jennings, tearfully recited the lyrics to her father's favorite song, "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother," and said he was always willing to help someone out. "Nothing was too much for him. ... He always did it with open arms."
Paul, too, had to repeatedly wipe away tears as he spoke. He said while his father was seen publicly as a tough negotiator and politician, "when he came home and the cowboy boots came off, he was a real softy."
A huge fan of the Christmas season, Mayne kept a holiday ringtone on his cell phone throughout the year. He loved to eat, Paul said, and would often take family and friends on fast-food runs that included multiple stops.
Sports were how Mayne relaxed, Paul said, ranging from fantasy football to duck hunting with his beloved golden retriever dogs. At the end, Paul said, his father told him to "look down the third-base line. I'll always be there."
Mayne was buried at Valley View Memorial Park in West Valley City. A fund-raiser intended to benefit his family as well as other cancer patients will be held Tuesday and will include tributes from Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and others.Hatch was among the public officials present Friday, along with the only Democrat in Utah's congressional delegation, Rep. Jim Matheson, and many current and former state lawmakers.