Walter Gretzky, known by many as "Canada's Hockey Dad," died after a battle with Parkinson's disease

By Eric Todisco
March 07, 2021 11:30 AM
Wayne and Walter Gretzky
Credit: George Pimentel/Getty Images

Wayne Gretzky's father, Walter Gretzky, has died after a battle with Parkinson's disease. He was 82.

The retired NHL legend, 60, confirmed that his father — who was widely known as "Canada's Hockey Dad" — had died in a statement posted to his Twitter account on Thursday.

"It's with deep sadness that Janet and I share the news of the passing of my dad," said Wayne. "He bravely battled Parkinson's and other health issues these last few years, but he never let it get him down."

He continued, "For my sister and my 3 brothers, Dad was our team captain — he guided, protected and led our family every day, every step of the way. For me, he was the reason I fell in love with the game of hockey. He inspired me to be the best I could be not just in the game of hockey, but in life."

"We will miss him so much," Wayne added, "but know that he's back with our Mom and that brings me and my family peace. He truly was the Great One and the proudest Canadian we know. We love you dad."

Wayne further honored his father during an emotional eulogy at the funeral service at St. Mark's Anglican Church in Brantford, Ontario. Outside of the church, hundreds of people, including kids wearing Gretzsky jerseys, gathered to pay tribute to Walter.

"He was a remarkable man who loved life, loved family," Wayne said in a heartfelt speech, according to ESPN. "We'd be a way better world if there was so many more people like my dad. Very special. We're all hurting."

The end of the funeral was reportedly marked with a video tribute that featured old photos of Walter teaching his children, Wayne included, how to play hockey on the ice rink, as well as photos of Wayne's career in the NHL.

Walter is survived by his five children: Wayne, Keith, Glen, Brent and Kim, and several grandchildren. His wife, Phyllis Hockin, died in 2005.