The “honest broker”, athlete, coach, loving and beloved family patriarch and master of joyous expression has died of complications from COVID-19. Leo was 76 years old. Having lived and worked in the Twin Cities area his entire career, he died in Florida, where his retirement winters were spent in Sandestin.
A kind-hearted man whose soul was filled with compassion and determination, Leo’s life was dedicated to his family, friends and community. His love for the University of Notre Dame, his active participation in athletics, and his dedicated commitment to charitable causes consumed his days.
Leo was born in Alexandria, MN on May 6, 1945, and grew up in Fargo, ND, the oldest of eight children. At Fargo Shanley High School, he was an honor student, Eagle Scout, Roger Maris Award recipient, and American football player, lettering in multiple sports. Following in his father’s footsteps at Notre Dame, he played hockey and football, was a member of the 1966 national championship football team, and played a pivotal role in the resurgence of ice hockey at Notre Dame. Lady. Leo received a bachelor’s degree in commerce and economics in 1967, then earned a master’s degree in economics from the University of St. Thomas.
His involvement in athletics fueled his competitive spirit and honed his people-centric personality traits that defined his success in business and philanthropy. After college, Leo briefly worked in business before moving into teaching and coaching (St. Thomas Academy, Henry Sibley and Macalester College). In 1980, he began his career as an investment advisor and retired in 2013 as Vice President of RBC Wealth Management.
Community service was central to Leo’s life. He has volunteered for the Catholic Church, Crossroads Africa, Peace Corp, St. Joseph’s Orphanage, Special OlympicsUS Olympic Festival, Notre Dame Club of Minnesota, Notre Dame Senior Alumni Association, Interfaith Outreach, University of Minnesota Athletic Directors Advisory Council, St. Thomas Senior Center and many more.
In 2006, RBC Dain Raucher honored Leo with the Dick McFarland National Volunteer of the Year award for his work with Interfaith Outreach, including founding the Earl Cup Woodhill Classic golf tournament. In 2012, Leo was inducted into the Shanley High School Hall of Fame. He has also been recognized by Mpls St. Paul Magazine for his volunteer work. Leo’s most recent honor was serving two terms as president of the Notre Dame Alumni Association. His retirement years were spent volunteering, traveling, golfing and painting. Most Saturdays, Leo was with members of the Notre Dame Alumni Association, serving breakfast to more than 200 people at the Dorothy Day Center. He contributed to the Wayzata Depot Model Train Display and was a self-proclaimed comic magician, entertaining all the guests in his “Sports Bar”. Leo loved all fireworks and relaxed painting scenes of the beautiful gardens he and Gwen had built around their home. His effervescence for life was contagious. A lifelong hockey goaltender, he shared that love with his sons and grandsons. Leo will forever be #1 in our hearts!
Survivors include his wife, Gwen Wells-Collins; children Sean (Sandy) Collins, Minneapolis, MN; Babette (Todd) Wheelden, North Andover, MA; Colman (Kara Gonos) Collins, Hopkins, MN; and Gwen’s daughter, Taunya (Steve Morris) Wells, Los Angeles, CA; the “four best grandsons on the planet” Antonio Collins, Drake Wheelden, William Collins and Fenix Wheelden; siblings Ken (Marci) Collins, Boulder, CO; Paul (Debbie) Collins, Clifton, Virginia; Mary Johnson, Walker, MN: Beth (Jim) Dutcher, Gillette, WY; Patrick (Teresita) Collins, Vero Beach, Florida; Katie Collins, Brooklyn, New York; sister-in-law Linda Collins, Fargo, ND; cousins Kathy (Tad) Dunlap, Kensington, MN, and Keith (Jan) Bakke, St. Louis Park, MN; and countless nieces, nephews, cousins and teammates.
Leo was predeceased by his parents, Kenneth and Pauline Collins, his brother J. Michael Collins, his brother-in-law Brian Johnson and the mother of his children, Bernadette Delmore Collins.
A noon Catholic Mass (with visitation at 11 a.m.) will be held at St. Bartholomew’s Catholic Church, 630 E. Wayzata Boulevard, Wayzata, MN, 55391 on Thursday, March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day. Interment will be at Holy Name Cemetery, Medina, MN in June 2022.
Memorials are preferred at Interfaith Outreach, 1605 County Rd 101 N, Plymouth, MN 55447
Published by Sun Sailor on February 25, 2022.