#CanadaHockey; #WalterGretzkyDead; #ParkinsonsDisease
Toronto/Canadian-Media: Canada's most beloved hockey dad, Walter Gretzky died Thursday at the age of 82 after a nine-year battle with Parkinson's disease, tweeted his son Wayne Gretzky on behalf of the family late Thursday.
Walter Gretzky. Image credit: Twitter handle of TSN Hockey
“He bravely battled Parkinson’s and other health issues these last few years but he never let it get him down ... He was truly the Great One and the proudest Canadian we know. We love you Dad,” said Wayne.
“You were my first teammate, you built my first rink, bought my first stick, and took me out at first light...You were the first defender I faced, the first goalie I scored on, and my first coach. My first fan, and my biggest. From my first step on the ice until my last step off of it, you were there for me,” said Wayne.
Despite being a celebrity, he always remained down to earth, they said.
“Everything I am is because of him,” Wayne once told the CBC in an interview, Toronto Star News reported.
In the introduction to his autobiography, Gretzky wrote: “I’d say, more than anything, we are ordinary people who have had some extraordinary things happen to us. Maybe that’s why so many others feel comfortable approaching me and telling me their own stories — and I’ve heard them all, including some very sad ones. Whether I’m at home or on the road, I do what I can to help.”
In 1991, three days after his 53rd birthday, he suffered a stroke from which he recovered after a number of years. according to the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame website the stroke also eradicated several years of his long-term memory, including some important moments of his kids’ lives.
The depression suffered by Walter was documented in the 2005 movie, "Waking up Wally: The Walter Gretzky Story.”
He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012.
“My dad put everything good into helping me play the game of hockey. He even would borrow two dollars from my grandmother so that I could get a hockey stick, to make sure that my stick was brand new,” Wayne Gretzky is quoted as saying.
“He always motivated me and pushed me.”
Gretzky’s wife, Phyllis, passed away in 2005, and leaves behind daughter Kim and sons Wayne, Keith, Glen and Brent.