Walter Gretzky, 2000-2009, Alumni (Brantford Minor Hockey Association)

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Walter Gretzky
Walter Gretzky Photo
Participated: Coach
Walter Gretzky was born on October 8, 1938 at the tiny hamlet of Canning , not far from the picturesque town of Paris, Ontario. As a typical Canadian boy he played hockey every winter and by his early teens was regarded as a very skillful up and coming player. He played five years of junior B with Woodstock.

After completing high school in Paris, Walter took a job with Bell Canada and in the early days with Bell he suffered a life threatening head injury that left him permanently deaf in his right ear and put and end to the serious side of his hockey dreams.

In 1960, he married Phyllis Hawkin and began a family. Wayne was born in 1961, followed by daughter Kim and sons Keith, Glen and Brent. Wayne showed great interest in hockey almost from the cradle. His grandmother would become his first goalie. Walter spent many cold nights watching Wayne at neighborhood rinks and finally decided to put a rink in the backyard. It would become affectionately known as the "Wally Coliseum". Walter coached Wayne in his first year of hockey and decided that was enough! He went on to coach Jr. B in Waterford and was instrumental in the development of Doug Jarvis, Stan Jonathan and Jim Turkiewicz.

Wayne's development was phenomenal and fast. Soon Walter had no time for coaching and found himself in the limelight of becoming hockey's best-known "Dad". Wayne had taken center stage in the N. H. L., and the hockey media found itself addicted to "Gretzky Mania". Walter was now not only the best known, but the most loved hockey dad as well.

In 1991, Walter suffered a brain aneurysm which destroyed a good deal of his memory and almost took his life. With great support from his family and a therapist who just wouldn't quit, Walter bravely overcame the limitations that an aneurysm can leave a person with. Today even with short-term memory difficulties Walter pursues life vigorously. He spends a good deal of time speaking all over North America on subjects ranging from the pros and cons of being Wayne's Dad to the signs and symptoms of brain trauma.

Walter has always been a "People Person" who genuinely cares about everyone around him. He is a frequent visitor to many people in area hospitals. He is a special friend to all the students at the W. Ross Macdonald School for the Blind in Brantford. Walter coached a triple A PeeWee hockey team in 1998, which competed in tournaments in Finland and Sweden as well as making a fine showing at the Quebec Major PeeWee tournament. In 1999 he coached a triple A Atom Team which won a gold medal at the Wayne Gretzky International Hockey Tournament in Brantford. Over the years Walter has been on hand to present countless Wayne Gretzky Tournament Medals to championship teams but this was the first time he had ever won one. He is a respected and active member of his Church, who can be found often working around the Church as well as participating in the Church.

He was the driving force behind the very successful Wayne Gretzky Tennis Classic, which not only did wonders in aid of the visually impaired, but also gave Brantford an improved identity and a better feeling of self worth. A corner stone of the Wayne Gretzky International Hockey Tournament, Walter spends countless hours at the Tournament each year signing autographs, shaking hands and encouraging young players to do their best in pursuit of Tournament Medals. In January of 1999 a new Tournament for House League players was initiated in Brantford and named in Walter's honor and Walter gave this Tournament his all as well.
Walter and Wayne provide fifteen , five thousand-dollar scholarships each year to deserving visually impaired students pursuing post secondary education. Walter insists on meeting each recipient and presenting him or her with their scholarship cheque. For several years Walter has traveled to many hospitals throughout Ontario at Christmas time with members of the Ontario Provincial Police to distribute Teddy Bears and autographed pictures of Wayne to children who must be in hospital over Christmas.

In 1996 Walter was honored as Brantford's Citizen of the Year. In 1997 Walter co - coached the Brantford Thunderhawks to the first Major Jr. A Walter Gretzky Cup Championship. In 1999 Walter was inducted along with Alexander Graham Bell and Emily Stowe into Brantford's "Walk of Fame" In the summer of 1999 and 2000 Walter coached our Team Ontario Under 16 Inline Roller Hockey Team to the International Ice Hockey Federation sanctioned Gold Medal Championship. In 2001 Walter was the National Spokesman for the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
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Printed from brantfordminorhockey.com on Thursday, July 18, 2019 at 7:00 AM