A Tribute To Mr. Mars (2024)

Many of us can follow the linking thread throughout our family lineage to discover our kinfolk’s legacy. Some families are in the humble and noble pursuit of passing down trade professions, like being a generational shoe cobbler family; others, may look to the seas and view their family’s legacy as seafarers before them. For Forrest Mars, Jr., he looked to the Milky Way to guide him, though, not by looking to the stars but in the form of chocolate-y malted delight. I’m talking about the Milky Way candy bar, of course.

Mr. Mars had the confectionary history to trace his roots of that founded by his grandfather Franklin Clarence Mars who had, admittedly, limited success in forming Mars, Incorporated out of a small kitchen in Tacoma, Seattle in the 1920’s, who then passed the reins on to his son, Forrest Mars, Sr., where the family business was introduced to the global markets, then the keys were passed to Forrest Mars, Jr. — along with his sister, Jacqueline Mars — has been credited with much of what we know Mars, Inc. to be today, a behemoth, multi-faceted company bringing in $35 billion in annual sales. How’s that for a treat?


Life is a fickle thing, but legacy is forever. Forrest Mars, Jr. was the 25th richest man in the world, but despite that lofty ranking — he did well to fit right in with the western charm and lifestyle only a special place like Wyoming can offer, after his move to Sheridan. His personal legacy permeated throughout the places he called home, much like it did from his homestead here in Sheridan. Most folk fancy themselves to think he lived way up on the mountainside in a secluded candy palace all to himself; however, this couldn’t be further from the truth for Mr. Mars. Now whether that was because of his unique upbringing or Wyoming having a profound influence on him or simply both, is beside the fact that he lived here by choice. He was a person of meekness, compassion, and kindness. A person well at home in our thriving Wyoming culture we all know and love.

To the uninformed, Mr. Mars moved to the beloved town of Sheridan, Wyoming in 1999, the same year his father, Forrest Mars, Sr., had passed away. Mr. Mars was without a doubt a business magnate, but for reasons almost completely unrelated to the chocolate empire at Mars, Inc., his presence as a bone fide local in Wyoming was something to behold. He frequented the local shops. He dined at the local restaurants in town. He became another friendly and welcoming face to the local community of Sheridan. So much so, you would be hard-pressed to walk around these parts to find someone who isn’t familiar with the local impact and fond memories formed as a result of the Mars’ family living here in Wyoming. From owning and living on their ranch property to donating financial gifts to build and expand community centers and even hosting friends for a self-prepared dinner, their giving hands were far-reaching in a place he loved to call home in his later years.

Bob Berger, a good friend to Mr. Mars—or as Berger affectionately knows him to be, calling him Forrest—said, “Forrest was a close friend, and had been for years.” Spending time here in Wyoming and Montana, Mr. Berger would find himself traveling with his friend Forrest. “He was a delight to know and be with, and to share adventures.” Berger echoed the sentiments about Mr. Mars and his relationship with Wyoming, “Forrest, really liked Wyoming, really liked the people here. He made many friends. He fit into the local society.” It didn’t matter much what your background was, “He easily fit in with others even those of differing circ*mstances.”

When I asked Berger about what he knew of Forrest’s usually quiet financial gifts to Wyoming, he was quick to list a range of his local endeavors, “He supported the Sheridan WYO Rodeo, the Snicker’s Soccer Cup tournament hosting teams from all over Wyoming, he also contributed to many community building projects, such as the major expansion to the WYO Theater, an expansion to the local senior center, an aquatic center for the YMCA, and the M&M’s Center with a magnificent indoor ice skating ring.” And, soon to open, the Mars Agricultural Center at Sheridan College.

Continuing on, one of the most notable intrigue of Forrest’s contributions was that to the Brinton Museum in Big Horn, “an old wood-framed ranch house with a $20 million-dollar addition,” as Mr. Berger put it. “It’s an amazing display of Western history, artwork, and artifacts that can stand up to any of the nation’s greatest museums.” Mr. Mars always had a special place in his heart for the preservation of what he felt was worth sharing with others, such as museums, educational programs, preservation of wildlife, and much more.

Mr. Mars strongly believed in genuine relationships and their governing principles. It is simply the type of person he was. Even after his passing, folks around Wyoming continue to see the fruit of Mr. Mars’ philanthropy. The man himself is still receiving awards, like the most recent Governor’s Arts Award bestowed upon him by the Wyoming Arts Council. Also, Forrest and his surviving wife Jacomien Mars are the winners of the Senior Center’s Keystone Award that will be presented at a ceremony in April.

Anyone you can think to speak with here in Sheridan can provide you a firsthand account as to why and how Mr. Mars was one of our own in every way. He was a gracious man who was as selfless as they come. Something we locals pride ourselves in. Welcoming all with open arms and treating one another with the utmost respect, always with a friendly smile and nod, and always offering a helping hand.

So, the next time you indulge in a piece of the – Melts in your mouth, not in your hand, M&M’s, the You’re not you when you’re hungry, Snickers Bars – chocolate goodness produced by Mars, perhaps say a little prayer and a thank you to Mr. Mars, because he has left behind a little something we can all continue to enjoy. In Wyoming, we all shared a moment of silence as Mr. Mars recently passed. But rather than focus on where he is now, let us celebrate him and take the baton to treating others as they ought to be treated and always lending a helping hand should the opportunity present itself.

You, Mr. Mars, were truly an exemplary soul and one we were proud to call our own.

Thank you.

— Wyoming Magazine

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