Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky paid tribute to his late father, Walter Gretzky, during a heartfelt eulogy on Saturday.
“He was a remarkable man who loved life, loved family. We’d be a way better world if there were so many more people like my dad,” he said.
Walter Gretzky passed away Thursday following complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was 82.
His son said Gretzky will be remembered for his “heart of gold.”
“We’re all hurting. This is a tough time. I’m so proud of the fact that so many people have reached out and given him such great tributes because he deserves it,” he said.
The funeral service was held at 2 p.m. ET in Gretzky’s hometown of Brantford, Ont.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is unlikely that the city will hold a ceremony in his honour.
Tributes poured in throughout Friday after Wayne Gretzky confirmed the news with a social media post.
“It’s with deep sadness that Janet and I share the news of the passing of my dad,” said Wayne.
“He bravely battled Parkinson’s and other health issues these last few years, but he never let it get him down,” he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered his condolences saying, “Walter Gretzky cared deeply about his family and his community — his kindness was undeniable, his passion was obvious, and his impact was immense. My thoughts are with Wayne and the entire Gretzky family, and all who are mourning the loss of Canada’s hockey dad.”
“Always the gentleman. Always had a smile and so incredibly generous with his time. Canada’s hockey dad is a very fitting description,” Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said.
Kevin Lowe, Oilers alumni and former teammate of Wayne, said anyone who had the pleasure of spending time with Walter was “undoubtedly affected by his positive approach to life, family and hockey.
“As we grow older, the passing of those dear to us whether they be teammates, siblings, coaches or parents reminds us to live our lives in a way that honours their legacy while holding them close in our hearts when they are no longer with us,” Lowe said in a statement.
Following the news of his death, a small memorial sprung up for Walter Gretzky outside the arena that bears his son’s name in Brantford.
Two hockey sticks – one full-sized, one miniature – and a Canadian flag adorn the sign marking off Walter Gretzky’s parking spot outside the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre.
“Reserved for Walter Gretzky, Lord Mayor of Brantford,” the sign reads.
— With files from Global News and the Canadian Press