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Leo Thomas Collins May 6, 1945 – February 19, 2022
Plymouth, MN – Leo Thomas Collins went to the front of the line in heaven on Saturday, February 19, 2022. His wife and family were by his side and in his heart as he received his last rites. The “honest broker,” athlete, coach, loving and beloved family patriarch, and master of joyful expression died due to 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 pumped with compassion and purpose, Leo’s life was devoted to his family, friends, and giving back to his 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 eldest of eight children. At Fargo Shanley High School, he was an honor student, Eagle Scout, Roger Maris Award recipient, and All-American football player, lettering in several sports. Following his father’s footsteps to Notre Dame, he played both hockey and football, was a member of the 1966 National Championship Football Team and was pivotal in the resurgence of ice hockey at Notre Dame. Leo obtained a Bachelor’s in Business and Economics in 1967, later receiving a Master of Economics degree from the University of St. Thomas.
His involvement in athletics nurtured his competitive spirit and polished his people-centric personality—traits that defined his success in business and philanthropy. After college, Leo briefly worked in business before transitioning to teaching and coaching (St. Thomas Academy, Henry Sibley, and Macalester College). In 1980, he began his career as an investment advisor, retiring in 2013 as a Vice President for RBC Wealth Management.
Community service was at the core of Leo’s being. He served as a volunteer for the Catholic Church, Crossroads Africa, Peace Corp, St. Joseph’s Orphanage, The Special Olympics, U.S. 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 awarded Leo the National Dick McFarland Volunteer of the Year 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 was also 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 Senior Alumni Association.
His retirement years were spent volunteering, traveling, playing golf, and painting. Most Saturdays found Leo with members of the Notre Dame Alumni Association, serving breakfast to over 200 people at the Dorothy Day Center. He contributed to the Wayzata Depot Model Train Display and was a self-proclaimed comedic magician, entertaining any and all guests in his “Sports Bar.” Leo loved all fireworks and relaxed by painting scenes of the beautiful gardens he and Gwen built around their home. His effervescence for life was infectious. A long-time hockey goalie, he shared that love with his sons and grandsons. Leo will be forever #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 “top four grandsons on the planet” Antonio Collins, Drake Wheelden, William Collins, and Fenix Wheelden; siblings Ken (Marci) Collins, Boulder, CO; Paul (Debbie) Collins, Clifton, VA; Mary Johnson, Walker, MN: Beth (Jim) Dutcher, Gillette, WY; Patrick (Teresita) Collins, Vero Beach, FL; Katie Collins, Brooklyn, NY; 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 preceded in death by his parents, Kenneth and Pauline Collins, brother J. Michael Collins, brother-in-law Brian Johnson, and the mother of his children, Bernadette Delmore Collins.
A noon time Catholic Mass (with visitation at 11 a.m.) will be held at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church, 630 E. Wayzata Boulevard, Wayzata, MN, 55391 on Thursday, March 17th – St. Patrick’s Day. Interment will be at Holy Name Cemetery, Medina, MN, in June 2022.
Memorials are preferred to Interfaith Outreach, 1605 County Rd 101 N, Plymouth, MN 55447