Walter Gretzky, father to Canadian hockey legend and former Oilers player Wayne Gretzky, has died at the age of 82.
Gretzky announced his father’s death on Twitter Thursday night.
“He bravely battled Parkinson’s and other health issues these last few years, but he never let it get him down,” Wayne Gretzky wrote in a statement.
Walter Gretzky was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2012, two years after noticing a tremor in his left hand. At the time, in an interview with the Stratford Beacon-Herald, the elder Gretzky said he was taking things in stride.
“It doesn’t get in the way,” he said. “I do everything with my right hand anyway.”
Parkinson’s disease kills dopamine-generating cells in the brain, which causes shaking and, later, difficulty with walking as well as cognitive problems.
His wife, Phyllis, died of lung cancer in 2005.
Wayne Gretzky said his father was his family’s team captain. The elder Gretzky coached Wayne beginning at the age of three, building him a hockey rink.
“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,” Gretzky said.
“He truly was the Great One and the proudest Canadian we know.”