Walter Gretzky, the dad of NHL Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, has died, his son announced on Thursday. He was 82. Wayne Gretzky took to Twitter to share the news and revealed that his father "bravely battled Parkinson's and other health issues over these last few years, but he never let it get him down."
The Great One added that his father is "the reason" he played hockey.
"For me, he was the reason I fell in love with the game of hockey," Wayne Gretzky wrote. "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, 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."
Wayne's mother, Phyllis, died in 2005 due to complications from lung cancer at the age of 64.
Walter was born in Ontario and ended up building a hockey rink in the family's backyard, which sparked Wayne's love of the game at a young age. He was athletic himself, and was a track and field star in his youth in addition to being a hockey player. Walter had a five-year run with the Junior B-level Woodstock Warriors.
Walter was an installer and repairman for Bell Canada for 34 years and retired from the workforce in 1991. He also assisted charities and coached a youth hockey camp in California in his later years.