Walter Gretzky, Father of NHL Legend Wayne Gretzky, Dies at 82

by Charles Craighill

On Thursday, “the Great One” Wayne Gretzky sadly announced the passing of his father Walter Gretzky at age 82. The hockey legend made the announcement on Twitter with a heartfelt message detailing his love and appreciation for his father.

“It’s with deep sadness that Janet and I share the news of the passing of my dad,” Wayne Gretzky writes on Twitter. “He bravely battled Parkinson’s and other health issues the last few years, but he never let it get him down.”

His mother also passed away in 2005 from lung cancer. Gretzky notes that the fact that his father can rejoin his mother “brings [him] and [his] family peace.”

Walter Gretzky’s long and painful battle with Parkinson’s came to a close on Thursday. The father of Wayne Gretzky was instrumental to the growth of hockey in Canada. For instance, he was named to the Order of Canada in 2007 “for his contributions to minor hockey in Canada and for his dedication to helping a myriad of local, provincial and national charities.”

Walter Gretzky Helped Wayne Gretzky Achieve Greatness

Walter Gretzky also played a huge role in Wayne Gretzky’s success. Wayne attributes much of his talent to his father’s training, including the shooting drills that he ran to improve anticipation. Wayne detailed this in his 1990 autobiography.

“People are always telling me, ‘You must have eyes in the back of your head,'” he wrote in the book. “Baloney. I’ve just learned to guess what’s going to happen next. It’s anticipation. It’s not God-given, it’s Wally-given.”

Wayne Gretzky also detailed how his father inspired him and his family in his heartfelt message on Twitter. “For my sister and three brothers, Dad was our team captain,” he wrote. “He guided, protected and led our family every day, every step of the way.”

To Wayne Gretzky, however, Walter Gretzky meant more than just leadership. Walter Gretzky helped his son not only achieve his greatness on the hockey rink, but also become the greatest person he could become.

“For me, he was the reason I fell in love with the game of hockey,” Wayne Gretzky continued in his message. “He inspired me to be the best I could be not only in the game of hockey, but also in life.”

While the passing of the Great One’s father certainly brings sadness to everyone who know him, the family feels at peace knowing “that he’s back with Mom” in heaven.