Sept. 20, 1940-March 2, 2024

Walter Leo Ekins, beloved husband, father and grandfather, passed away on March 2, 2024, at age 83, leaving behind a deep legacy of faith, service and love.

Leo was born on Sept. 20, 1940, to Walter and Roma Ekins in Hinckley, Utah. He was the third of five children, coming after sisters Marlene and Carma, and before brothers Duane and Eldon. Leo grew up on his family’s farm in Hinckley, Utah, where he learned the value of discipline and hard work, characteristics that would define him throughout his life. At heart, Leo was always on the farm.

While growing up, when not working on the farm, Leo was an avid basketball player. He starred on the Delta High School basketball team, living by the philosophy that you miss every shot you don’t take. His teammates called him the “black hole” – once you passed him the ball, you’d never see it again. He would later tell his grandchildren that he was a three-sport athlete in high school – “milking cows, driving tractors and turning hay bales.”

After graduating from Delta High School in 1958, Leo attended Brigham Young University. He put his studies on hold to serve a mission in Denmark for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1960-63.

Upon returning to BYU, Leo met the love of his life Martha Jean (“Jeanie”) Ekins. They were married in the Manti Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sept. 2, 1964. Together they had five children: Lisa, Brett, Brian, Stacy and Allison, and built a rich family life together.

Upon graduating from BYU in 1966 with a BS in Agronomy, Leo continued his education at Oregon State University, where he earned a masters’s degree in weed science in 1968. 

Leo started his career in 1968 with Fisons, a British multinational agricultural chemicals company, working in their Kansas City and later Boston, offices. As a member of Fisons’ research and development team, Leo traveled throughout the United States, visiting large farms and advising corporate farming enterprises on the newest developments in crop protection. Leo was an expert in the area of crop protection and knew his way around a field of sugar beets or soybeans like few others. To his family’s delighted amusement, Leo would frequently wear company-issued shirts and hats emblazoned with the name of his company’s latest pesticide or insecticide.

When Fisons merged with another company in 1981, Leo moved with his family to the new company headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware. In 1985, Leo was promoted to President and CEO of Nor-Am (later re-named AgrEvo following another merger). To prepare for his new role, Leo attended and graduated from the executive MBA course at Penn State University. He retired in 1999.

When not working, Leo spent his time attending his children’s activities and performances (mostly basketball, baseball and dance); serving in various Church callings (including bishop for several years in the Georgetown Ward in Massachusetts); and working on a wide range of projects around the house and yard. He could build anything, fix anything, and of course his lawn was always immaculate. 

Upon retiring, Leo and Jeanie moved to St. George, Utah. Leo stayed busy playing basketball (including in the Huntsman Senior Games up until age 75), working on his golf game, serving in the St. George Temple, spending time with his 16 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren and serving two missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – one to the St. George Temple Visitors Center and another to the Kirtland Ohio Visitors Center.

Leo is survived by his five children: Lisa Ann Shifflett (husband Michael Shifflett), Brett Douglas Ekins (wife Kami Christensen), Brian Leo Ekins (wife Amanda Nobbs), Stacy Jean Hall (husband Ryan Hall), and Allison Browning Macaulay (husband Jon Macaulay); grandchildren (Parker Mortensen, Abigail Ekins, Christian Ekins, Alexander Ekins, Benjamin Ekins, Molly Ekins, Maddie Ekins, Matthew Ekins, Adam Ekins, Will Ekins, Luke Hall, Colin Hall, Wyatt Hall, Ian Macaulay, Henry Macaulay, and Olivia Macaulay; and great-grandchildren Vincent Mortensen, Reynolds Ekins, Francis Ekins and Charles Bledsoe; and his brother Eldon.

Leo is preceded in death by his parents Walter LeRoy Ekins and Roma Higbee Ekins; sisters Marlene Bliss and Carma Wright; brother Duane Ekins; and son-in-law Jon Macaulay.

The family invites friends and loved ones to a memorial service to celebrate Leo’s life on Friday, March 8, at Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S. Bluff St., St. George, Utah. A viewing will be held at 1 p.m., with a memorial service directly following at 2 p.m.

Leo’s journey on earth has ended, but his spirit and example and love will live on in the hearts of all those who were lucky enough to know him. Until we meet again …

Arrangements are under the direction of Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S Bluff St., St. George, 435-673-2454. Family and friends are invited to click here to sign Leo’s online guest book.