Garstad: Mars Was 'One of a Kind'

Zane Garstad classified Forrest Mars as one of a kind, a man who was awesome in his generosity to the Sheridan community.

Mr. Mars, a retired co-president of the family-owned Mars candy and pet food company, died July 26 from complications of a heart attack while traveling in Seattle, according to the company that his grandfather founded. He was 84.

Mars has been a major sponsor of the Sheridan-WYO Rodeo for several years, and Garstad recalled how that came about.

The WYO Rodeo board was represented at that meeting by Garstad, Billy Craft and Tracy Swanson.

He said that started a 14-year relationship that has been an unbelievable asset to the rodeo and to the community.

Mr. Mars, his brother John and sister Jacqueline inherited the Mars company from their father, Forrest E. Mars Sr. The brothers became co-presidents, jointly running the company, in the mid-1970s. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Mars retired in 1999, but he remained on the board of directors until 2006. In retirement, he took students from Hotchkiss boarding school in Lakeville, Conn., where he attended school, on educational cruises to Antarctica. He and his wife, Jacomien, lived in Big Horn.

Under the co-presidency of Mr. Mars and his brother, the Mars company went from annual sales of about $1 billion to about $35 billion a year. The brothers reportedly took a hands-on approach, including frequent trips to tour company factories and see how products were displayed in stores around the world.

Mr. Mars earned a bachelor of science degree from Yale University in 1953 and a master's of business administration in 1958 from New York University. Before joining the family business, he served in the U.S. Army and worked as an auditor for Price Waterhouse. His outside interests included adventure travel and U.S. history.

In addition to his wife, brother and sister, survivors include four children, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, according to the Mars company.