Utah entrepreneur whose wife was killed by infamous bomber Mark Hofmann dies

Tribune file photo J. Gary Sheets, center, is comforted by his daughter Katie Robertson after arriving at his Salt Lake City home, where his wife had been killed in a bomb explosion.

J. Gary Sheets, a Utah entrepreneur whose wife was killed by the infamous bomber Mark Hofmann, died Sunday in St. George. He was 84.

In the 1980s, Sheets had built a thriving enterprise, Coordinated Financial Services, in Salt Lake City, which employed Steven F. Christensen as one of its consultants. On the side, Christensen was involved in the lively trade in historic Mormon books and documents and had dealings with Hofmann.

Hofmann, who had been forging documents to sell, worried that his crimes would be discovered and wanted to throw investigators off his trail by shifting their focus to Christensen’s connection with Sheets’ business. Hofmann built two pipe bombs. He left one outside Christensen’s door at the Judge Building in downtown Salt Lake City; Christensen, who had left Sheets’ business, died when he picked up the package and it detonated.

The second one Hofmann planted at the Sheets house, and it killed Sheets’ wife, Kathleen, instantly.

"When my dad told me,” Gretchen Sheets McNees, who was 19 in 1985, said on the 20th anniversary of her mom’s death, “it was like all my bones had been ripped out of me."

Sheets grew up in Richfield and attended the University of Utah, according to his obituary. After Kathleen’s death, he remarried. He is survived by his wife, Diane, six children, 18 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

A funeral will take place at noon Wednesday at the Green Valley 1st Ward in St. George, with a viewing at 10:30 a.m. Memorial donations may be made to the Switchpoint Community Resource Center for the homeless in St. George.