Canada's most beloved hockey parent, Walter Gretzky, has died at the age of 82.
"He truly was the great one"
Wayne Gretzky says in an online post that his father died on Thursday.
"He bravely battled Parkinson's and other health issues these last few years, but he never let it get him down," Wayne writes.
While Walter enjoyed coaching his children in hockey at a young age and watching Wayne's career, his faith was even more important and drove him to do charity work.
"In our family, we're all Christians and we all help each other. It's 'Do unto others as you would like done unto yourself,'" Walter told Postmedia when receiving the Order of Canada in 2007.
"I'm very fortunate because I'm in a position where I can help people. Not everyone can do that."
Walter suffered a serious brain aneurysm which robbed him of much of his memory in 2007. That includes many of Wayne's biggest moments. But one thing that stuck with him was his faith.
Walter said in a 2013 interview with Chatham-Kent This Week that one morning during his rehabilitation he woke up and couldn't stop singing all of 'Amazing Grace.'
"It drove my therapist nuts. But here's the thing... I don't think I had ever sung that hymn before."
He told the newspaper that while many hockey memories were gone he began to remember important things like his children's weddings. He also remembered meeting the woman who would become his wife for the first time.
"I have no memory of what happened yesterday, but I remember the first time I met Phyllis when she was 15 and I was 18. I remember where I saw her, and I remember what she was wearing."
He was known for his gentle attitude and availability to many.
"For my sister and three brothers, dad was our team captain," Wayne says. "He guided, protected and led our family every day, every step of the way."
Wayne credits his father for instilling the love of hockey in him at an early age, saying, "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."
Wayne says that in the midst of their grief the family is also comforted.
"We will miss him so much, but know that he's back with our mom and that brings me and my family peace."
Walter is survived by his four sons, a daughter, and many grandchildren.
There is no word on funeral arrangements at this time.