Gretzky's goodbye to mom Phyllis

NATALIE PONA -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:27 AM ET

BRANTFORD -- Hockey great Wayne Gretzky was just a son paying tearful tribute to his mom yesterday.

At her funeral the hometown hero remembered mom, Phyllis, as a wonderful, tough lady who loved bingo and always put her family first.

"She was a person who stayed back and didn't really enjoy the limelight. But in our house, she was the limelight," said Wayne, 44, in a brief eulogy near the beginning of an hour-long, private service at an Anglican church.

Phyllis, 64, died Monday night in hospital surrounded by her children after a battle with lung cancer.

As he spoke to the crowd, a few of whom were brought to tears, Wayne looked around the packed pews.

"We know our mother now is not in pain," he said.

"She's a tough lady that endured a lot over the last six months physically. She's pain-free now."

Wayne's 67-year-old father Walter stood up and hugged his son after the eulogy.

Archdeacon Jim Sutton said the mother of five was a simple person whose legacy of love for her family was an example for all.

"Thank you, God, for giving us people like Phyllis to show us that it's possible to live that way," he said.

The funeral drew hundreds of players, fans and strangers to this city of about 90,000 people.

Candy Beausoleil was among the handful of onlookers gathered on the streets across from the church. She said she remembers the family from community hockey games.

'GRIEVING IN SPOTLIGHT'

She watched as local officers saluted eight pallbearers -- including Wayne.

"He never lost his roots. I have a lot of respect for him and his family," Beausoleil said.

"Despite all his fame and fortune, he's still just a local guy," she said."I can't imagine how hard it is to grieve in the spotlight."

The mayor of Brantford called it a dark day.

"This whole city is in mourning," Mike Hancock said. "We all feel we lost a family member."


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