Walter Gretzky, father of Wayne "the Great One" has passed away at the age of 82 after a battle with Parkinson's disease and other health issues. Most people knew Walter as the mentor, personal trainer and biggest fan of his son (the greatest hockey player of all time) – the man who brought out #99's passion for the game.
"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," Wayne Gretzky wrote on Twitter.
"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."
Walter capitalized on Wayne's success and used it to make the world a better place. He was heavily involved in promoting and raising money for charities and was always known to be a generous person.
In 2007, Walter was named to the Order of Canada, the country's highest civilian honour, for his contributions to minor hockey and dedication to helping countless charities.
He took time to speak to kids about the game and never took himself to seriously. The fame never got to him. He spent most of his later years hosting charity tournaments, making appearances at fundraisers, and promoting the game of hockey.
Walter would notice a parent and their child stopping in front of the Gretzky home in Brantford, Ontario and would walk outside to invite them in, showing them his extensive collection of his son's memorabilia. Imagine the joy in the kid's (and parent's) eyes?
Walter was a philanthropist, a neighbour, a coach–but most of all, Walter was a hockey dad.