'Canada's hockey dad' Walter Gretzky dies at age 82

Associated Press
Walter Gretzky, father of Wayne Gretzky, waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres played the Toronto Maple Leafs in Toronto in 2017. Walter Gretzky has died at age 82.

Walter Gretzky, the father of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, has died. He was 82.

Wayne Gretzky said in a statement Thursday night that his father battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues the past few years.

"Walter Gretzky cared deeply about his family and his community," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement. "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."

In his younger days, Walter Gretzky became a name himself, appearing with his famous son in commercials and emerging as a blue-collar symbol of a devoted hockey parent.

His celebrity status increased after making a remarkable recovery from a stroke suffered in 1991.

His recovery was chronicled in his autobiography, "On Family, Hockey and Healing," and in a 2005 made-for-TV movie.