Wayne Gretzky remembered his father, Walter, as a person with “a coronary heart of gold” at his funeral in Brantford, Ontario.
BRANTFORD, ON — Walter Gretzky’s household thought the tip was coming shortly in the course of February.
The daddy of hockey’s biggest participant had suffered a critical hip damage and, after battling Parkinson’s illness and different well being points lately, his time — one thing Walter was at all times prepared to provide each mates and strangers — gave the impression to be operating brief.
“However he had a love for all times and he didn’t need to depart,” Wayne Gretzky mentioned throughout an emotional eulogy Saturday. “We had been 21 days sitting with him and simply having fun with life. We received an opportunity and alternative to inform tales.”
And Walter Gretzky’s life was filled with them.
Often called Canada’s hockey dad, Walter Gretzky died Thursday at age 82. His demise prompted an avalanche of tributes for a real, approachable, genuine one that nurtured Wayne’s unimaginable abilities on the household’s famed yard rink in Brantford, but in addition by no means forgot the place he got here from.
“He was a exceptional man who beloved life, beloved household,” Wayne Gretzky mentioned. “We’d be a means higher world if there was so many extra individuals like my dad. Very particular, we’re all hurting.”
Attributable to COVID-19 restrictions, the funeral service was restricted to household. However a whole lot of individuals — together with many youngsters sporting Gretzky jerseys — gathered exterior St. Mark’s Anglican Church on this metropolis about 60 miles west of Toronto.
“A troublesome time,” mentioned Wayne, his voice starting to crack and tears welling in his eyes. “I’m so pleased with the truth that so many individuals have reached out and given him such nice tributes, as a result of he deserves it. He has the guts of gold.”
Walter was there each step of the way in which as Wayne ascended to a greatness that included 4 Stanley Cups with the Edmonton Oilers and turning into the NHL’s profession time chief in objectives, assists and factors.
An worker with Bell for greater than three many years — and lengthy after his son turned the game’s greatest star — Walter remained a loving, blue-caller image of devotion.
“A deeply humble man,” mentioned Rev. Dr. Tim Dobbin, who officiated the funeral broadcast reside on TSN and streamed on Sportsnet.ca. “He spoke the reality. Wally’s phrase was his bond.”
A video tribute in direction of the tip of the service included footage from the early days on the yard rink, Wayne’s triumphs, Walter on the ice educating youngsters, the Gretzky memorabilia within the household dwelling, and highlights from his son’s last video games within the NHL.
Because the casket was about to be led out of the church and into the sunshine, “The Hockey Theme” tune made well-known on “Hockey Night time In Canada” was performed.
And the second Walter’s funeral procession pulled away from the church — the constructing’s signal learn “We Will Miss You Wally” — among the jersey-clad youngsters ready exterior tapped their hockey sticks on the pavement in unison.
A becoming ship off for Canada’s hockey dad.