How do you summarize the life of someone like Walter Gretzky in the time that I have? First thought is, you can’t.
But as my father in-law pointed out, Walter’s motto was “There’s no such thing as can’t.” And so, I’ll give it my best shot.
Wally had a deep love of the game of hockey. A love he passed on to not only his children, but other kids too. He encouraged and nurtured the love of the game by instilling in others an ethic of hard work, determination and confidence in oneself.
Much like hockey, Wally had a deep love for his community and his country. He was generous with his time, whether through raising money for the numerous charitable organizations he was involved in, serving meals to those in need at a local church, chatting with or singing to anyone nearby, both adults and children alike .
Wally opened up his home to anyone that knocked on the door, leading them into the basement to enjoy his sports memorabilia collection.
He was honoured with the Brantford Citizen of the Year award, is an inductee to the Brantford Walk of Fame, a Member of the Order of Ontario and a Member of the Order of Canada.
Wally carried the Olympic Torch and received honorary degrees from 3 universities.
While he achieved much in his lifetime, one might say his most notable accomplishment was what he gave to others, kindness and the way he made others feel. Whether family or someone he’d never met before, Wally always wanted you to feel listened to, included and appreciated, like you were the great one.
On Saturday Wally was laid to rest, a crowd of people in hockey jerseys and kids tapping their hockey sticks, lining the street outside the church to show their respect.
In my house he was uncle Walter, in Brantford he was Lord Mayor, to many he was Wally, to our country he was Canada’s hockey dad. His legacy will live on in every arena, backyard rink and memory of those who had the pleasure of meeting him. Every time we hear a stick tap the boards, it will be Walter Gretzky telling us that “There is no such thing as can’t."
Rest well Wally.